Letters: Other views on measles, schools

The Detroit News

Parents responsible for measles outbreak

FILE - In this Feb. 16, 2019, file photo, Philippine National Red Cross and Health Department volunteers conduct house-to-house measles vaccination to children at an informal settlers community in Manila, Philippines. The Philippine health secretary says 136 mostly children have died of measles and 8,400 others have been downed by the contagious viral disease in an outbreak partly blamed on a vaccination scare in recent years.

Measles was least expected in the United States. The disease is generally concentrated in poor countries, low resource settings and areas of war and conflict. The measles vaccine is considered the best preventive measure with the vast majority of vaccinated children never having the disease even with a single dose of vaccination.

Since the advent of measles vaccine in 1960s, the number of cases in the U.S. decreased by more than 95 percent. Vaccination is considered one of the greatest American public health achievements in the 21st century, with millions of disease cases prevented each year. Since 2000, the measles vaccine saved more than 20 million lives worldwide. 

A dangerous cocktail of medical misinformation, conspiracy theories, fake news, political dialogue, anti-vaccination movements and religious and personal beliefs is responsible for this wave of infectious and vaccine-preventable diseases that has surged worldwide — with the U.S. an unlikely victim. Measles cases are expected to rise and continue to spread across the world, and the major reason is gap in vaccine coverage. 

In the U.S., parents need to take responsibility for the spread and lack of prevention of measles as they are the major decision makers. To make the situation worse, parents use exemptions to not get children vaccinated. While all states have laws on student vaccination, the majority of states also allow exemptions based on personal belief, religious values or medical grounds.

Unscrupulous physicians add fuel to the fire by helping exemptions. This is despite the fact that powerful and responsible professional organizations such as the American Medical Association always support limited exemptions and strongly oppose immunization opt outs. 

We have little time for action and as vaccines are shown to be effective, we need to close loopholes that prevent vaccination of American children.

Jagdish Khubchandani

Muncie, Indiana

School funding insufficient for students

As a former special education teacher, I can tell you firsthand it requires additional support services to help Michigan’s most vulnerable students meet our state’s rigorous academic standards. The same goes for students who speak English as a second language or come from low-income families.

A recent Ben DeGrow's column, "Whitmer misrepresented school funding woes," Feb. 14," completely fails to recognize how Michigan’s broken school funding approach treats these — and all students — as if they have identical needs. This one-size-fits-all approach has contributed to Michigan schools struggling to meet student performance standards, putting our kids behind the eight ball in preparing for college and careers.

The School Finance Research Collaborative, which I proudly serve on, came to the identical conclusion in Michigan’s first comprehensive school adequacy study. The Collaborative is a diverse group of business leaders and education experts from all corners of Michigan who agree it’s time to change how Michigan’s schools are funded.

The Collaborative’s first-of-its-kind study determined it costs a minimum of $9,590 to educate a child in Michigan, and that additional funding considerations are necessary for special education, English Language Learners, students living in poverty and Career and Technical Education programs.

The Collaborative report also determined Michigan is falling far short of providing support services needed for all students to achieve and succeed.

Here are just a couple of examples:

1) Michigan currently provides 1 counselor for every 729 students. The Collaborative study recommends 1 counselor for every 200 students.

2) One psychologist is currently provided for every 4,800 students. Our study recommends 1 psychologist for every 400 students.

It’s never been more clear: Michigan’s obsolete, cookie-cutter school funding approach continues to fail our students as they prepare for college and careers.

Gilda Jacobs, president and CEO

Michigan League for Public Policy