Letters to the editor: June 21

June 21, 2014 

Healthier lunches mean stronger national defense

Susan Zepeda, president/CEO of Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky, made some excellent points about the importance of the school lunch program for children's health in the June 9 column "Keep school-lunch nutrition rules."

As a member of Mission: Readiness, an organization of more than 450 retired generals and admirals who are extremely concerned about our nation's ability to continue recruiting the young people needed to maintain the world's finest military, I would like to add that healthier school meals are also important to our future national security.

Obesity is now the leading medical reason why young people cannot serve in the military, with more than one in five youth being too overweight to enlist.

The U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command turned away more than 41,000 otherwise qualified potential recruits between 2007 and 2012 for being overweight or obese.

We are at a critical juncture in the battle against childhood obesity. The good news is that an overwhelming majority of schools across the country are now successfully serving healthier meals to students and, this fall, schools will also provide healthier options in vending machines and cafeteria a la carte lines.

The retired generals and admirals of Mission: Readiness urge Congress to resist efforts to derail continued implementation of science-based nutrition guidelines for school meals and snacks.

It is not only a children's health issue, it is a national defense issue.

D. Allen Youngman, Major General, U.S. Army (Retired)


Parents need options

The Herald-Leader column of Marty Solomon's opposition to charter schools would be more convincing if he had referenced the most recent data available to compare the performance of charter schools to government schools.

According to the 2013 National Charter School Study by the Center for Research on Education Outcomes at Stanford University:

"Every view provides an improved picture of charter school quality when contrasted to results from the 2009 report. Moreover, as recent growth periods become a larger share of the data the estimates of charter school impacts on student academic progress improve. If we limit the analysis to the most recent growth period, students in charter schools have eight more days of learning" in reading than in traditional public schools.

It costs the state less to educate a child in a charter school than in a government school.

According to NYPost.com, the policy group Save Our States reports that charters in New York public school buildings cost over $3,000 less per student than regular public schools.

The report shows that when fully accounting for pension and health cost liabilities, regular public schools cost $19,822 to $20,283 per student. Charter schools co-located in city school buildings cost $16,660.

Many parents, when given a choice, choose to send their children to a charter school.

Solomon fails to mention this, but it should have some bearing on Kentucky's decision to fund charter schools — unless we prefer to trust Solomon and the government school bureaucracy rather than the parents themselves.

J. Robert Ross


Middle-class prosperity

Lexington attorney Richard Dawahare's June 5 column recalls a golden era when, "more people lived better, when taxes were higher, when the wealth gap was narrower, when social services were more plentiful and when the government truly regulated in the greater public interest."

But when did more people live better? The middle class is larger today than it was in 1979, and its income, by Dawahare's own account, has risen by 39 percent.

Millions of Americans can remember when a family with one bathroom, one car and one TV was considered middle class.

How many of us would draw the line there in 2014?

Dawahare has every right to his nostalgia for higher taxes, but political preferences don't excuse revisionist history.

The "more plentiful" social services of the 1970s provided roughly 1 in 14 Americans with food stamps. Today the ratio is 1 to 7.

During the same period, spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid has skyrocketed, transforming a green eyeshades issue into a crisis.

As for regulations, you can find them all in the Federal Register, which grew by a record 6,085 pages per month in the first decade of this century and is growing even faster in the second.

If we could regulate our way to prosperity, we would know it by now.

Michael Smith


Lexington VA excels

I want to commend the Veterans Affairs in Lexington, especially the Leestown Road division for outstanding care for two recent veterans.

A relative of mine who was a World War II veteran died recently and received wonderful care from all the staff, doctors, nurses, aides, office staff and maintenance staff.

The private room was beautiful, large, airy, equipped with top-of-the-line Hill-Rom beds, piped-in oxygen and suction.

All of the staff was courteous and kind to the family. The VA is getting a lot of criticism, and rightly so. But our local VA is working hard to care for our veterans, who deserve the very best.

A friend of mine in Leestown is having radiation treatment for cancer. My friend is receiving the same great care and room as my relative.

Look out Lexington hospitals, those spacious VA rooms and care will pass you by.

I am a retired registered nurse of 54 years, and I'm proud to say our Lexington VA is working hard to give our veterans the care that they deserve.

Yvonne Kondelis


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