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June 3, 2014

NEWS AND TRIBUNE LETTERS — For June 3

Haven House seeks medical supplies

Haven House Services Inc., has a task to do in just feeding and housing homeless people. Many come to us with multiple issues, among those issues are illnesses, exhaustion and poor hygiene/health.

In gratitude, we would like to recognize the diligent, quiet dedication of our nurses, Marilyn Czape and Anne Receveur for the many hours of nursing assistance and health advocacy they provide to those who live at our shelter.

Marilyn and Anne do so with limited resources and are consistently in need of supplies, so any unused medical supplies — even a wheelchair — would be greatly appreciated, as well as over-the-counter medications, bandages and salves/solutions. Monetary donations can be earmarked for the Health Advocacy program as well.

Please know that those we serve are better served because of the devotion exhibited by Marilyn and Anne. As National Nurses Week was celebrated, we felt the need to say thank you publicly and to let people know that those in need have two strong champions in their health care quest.

They would love to be joined by nurses with some desire to volunteer as well and will return calls left for them at 812-285-1197.

Health is so important to all of us but imagine what it would be like to be in poor health without a home to go at all. We need you to help them.

Thanks again to two very dedicated nurses.

— Barbara Anderson, executive director, Haven House Services Inc., Jeffersonville

Remember Daeschner with Greater Clark’s success

Greater Clark County Schools Superintendent Dr. Andrew Melin took credit in a recent News and Tribune article for the 2013 graduation rate exceeding 90 percent by saying it was “his” graduation rate goal.

It seems to me that the credit belongs to the former superintendent, Dr. Stephen Daeschner, who was successful in turning our struggling school system around. It was also James Sexton, former principal of Jeffersonville High School, who took a high school that was on academic probation and changed the culture and got it back on track.

These two men paved the road for Dr. Melin. They were the ones who did the hard work. All Dr. Melin had to do was follow their lead. It is really quite sad that the two men who were truly responsible for the changes within Greater Clark were summarily dismissed by the school board for “philosophical differences.”  What is actually best for the students doesn’t seem to matter.

Dr. Melin stated that he “wants to see the rate continue to grow” and that the “success is on the backs of teachers and building-level administrators” — apparently not on him.

However, Dr. Melin and the school board have essentially made it easy for the rate to go up since they recently lowered the requirements for students to graduate — requiring only 40 credits instead of 46. Assistant superintendent Travis Haire said about 44 more students will graduate in 2014 at Jeffersonville High School simply because the requirements were lowered. This, in itself, should raise the graduation rate significantly.

When the graduation rate for 2014 rises, it will be important to look closely at what the rate would have been had the board and Dr. Melin not lowered the requirements.

Only by comparing “apples to apples” will it be known if the school system is actually improving or whether it is just manipulating numbers to make it appear that they are being successful. Anyone can raise the rate by lowering the goal, but that is certainly not a true reflection of accomplishment.  

— Alice Butler, Jeffersonville

It’s time to talk about teen pregnancy

June is an exciting months for our teens. Proms, graduations, and the usual end-of-school-year milestones are rites of passages we all anticipate and enjoy.

It’s also a fitting time to consider an issue that can interfere with those milestone accomplishments: teen pregnancy.

Teen pregnancy is associated with higher poverty, lower education, higher infant mortality, and greater reliance on public support — not exactly the kind of bright futures we want for our young people. These effects follow teens and their families for years — often, for generations.

Fortunately, we know what works to lower the teen pregnancy rate: access to birth control and comprehensive, medically accurate sex education. When teens have the information they need, they make smarter decisions about sex. Sex education that includes an abstinence-plus curriculum has been proven to help young people delay sex, and to use contraception and condoms when they do become sexually active.

In the last 20 years, the national teen pregnancy rate has declined significantly. However, it’s not declining as fast in Indiana as it is in the rest of the country. In Clark and Floyd counties, more than 200 teenagers between 15 and 19 years old become pregnant each year.

The majority of these pregnancies are unintended.

Comprehensive sex education is supported by organizations like the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics. An overwhelming majority of parents say that birth control should be covered in high school sex education programs, and most want this information provided to students in middle school.

More than three-quarters of teens aged 15-17 say they need more information about birth control, HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Ideally, these conversations involve parents. But the numbers tell us that too often, teens aren’t getting the information they need at home.

At more than two dozen Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky health centers, including ones in New Albany and Louisville, our trained health care professionals provide information and high-quality, affordable health care in a nonjudgmental setting.

Through programs for teenagers and young adults — school-based programs, peer education groups and other youth-focused programs — PPINK provides teens with accurate information about the importance of protecting themselves against unintended pregnancy and STDs, and about healthy relationships.

For parents, we provide resources to help talk to teens about these critical topics.

Our goal is nothing short of eliminating unintended teen pregnancy in the communities we serve by encouraging teens to take charge of their reproductive health. To do this, we need teens, parents, educators and communities around the state to push for comprehensive, accurate education that includes abstinence. Together, we can give all teens a brighter future.

Visit plannedparenthood.org for more information.

— Betty Cockrum, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky

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