Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Enough with good enough

Corporate and political decision-makers spend much of their time trying to reach important conclusions regarding the question: What is good enough?
    What’s good enough in education?  Good enough in medicine? Good enough in insurance coverage? Good enough? This is an exercise Idaho should undertake.
    Idaho currently ranks toward the bottom among the 50 states in several academic categories. It is second to last in spending per pupil and 47th in the percentage of students who attend college after graduating from high school. Just 25 percent of Idaho’s high school graduates receive a college degree, one of the lowest numbers in the nation.
    The Idaho State Board of Education reports that Idaho’s average six-year graduation rate of baccalaureate students is 42.9 percent. On this score, the state is the seventh lowest in the nation; the national average is 56.1 percent.
    Are legislators ready to say that schools that are 48th in the nation academically are good enough for Idaho children? Is acquiescence to the standings good enough when Idaho’s children must compete not only with those from other states but with the best from all over the world?
    Education should be only a part of the analysis about how the state’s citizens are faring and what support they should have from their government in order to succeed. Health is another.
    Idaho ranks 47th out of 50 in the number of primary-care physicians per 100,000 population.
    Idaho’s breast cancer screening rate for women older than 40 is 64 percent, compared to a national average of 76 percent.
    Of critical concern is a national study among states that shows Idaho with the lowest percentage of companies that offer workers employer-sponsored health insurance. Just 43 percent of companies in the state offer that benefit. According to a report published by the University of Minnesota’s State Health Access Data Assistance Center, that’s an increase from last year’s figure of 41 percent.
    For companies with 50 or fewer employees, Idaho ranks second lowest behind Alaska, with only 28 percent offering a health insurance benefit.
    Reality is more than these cold, dry numbers. State residents must consider whether these results indicate that Idaho is good enough.
    How little is good enough for our children, for our workers, for our families? Must Idahoans accept only “good enough”? We think not.
    It’s long past time to say enough is enough and commit to something more.

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