WELLPATH ISN’T WELL
On Feb. 7 the Lane County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to place a Public Safety Levy Renewal on the May ballot. Although Commissioner David Loveall requested an increase to the levy, the final vote reflected no increase.
The levy renewal helps to fund the county jail, its medical services, its mental health services and youth services for juvenile offenders. All of this is good and necessary. But in light of competing demands for scarce resources we need to be sure that our money is wisely spent.
These services are currently provided by WellPath (formerly known as Correct Care Solutions). WellPath is one of the nation’s largest for-profit providers. It is based in Nashville, Tennessee, and it is currently owned by a private equity firm, H.I.G. Capital. It has $1.17 billion in revenue. It has been sued over 1,300 times for inadequate care. I bet that its CEO is paid handsomely.
Questions arise: Is the Board of Commissioners certain that the county can’t provide these needed services (like it used to) for way less money? Have any impartial cost analysis been performed (not just audits) before or during this outsourcing to WellPath? Why were these services outsourced from the county to a for-profit private equity firm to begin with? What jobs were outsourced considering that corporate activities are in Nashville? Considering that Oregon does not now incarcerate for low level drug possession shouldn’t there be a reduced need for jail services?
An impartial cost analysis is required. Vote “no” until questions are answered.
I had many roles during my 25 years as an educator in Eugene: classroom teacher, teacher on special assignment for instruction and interim building administrator. Eugene School District 4J has always been an outstanding school district but it has not always served its diverse population of students equitably.
On May 16, Eugene voters will decide who will fill four open spots on the Eugene School Board. Gordon Lafer, current vice president of the board, is running for re-election. Lafer brings a wealth of experience to the role. His background as an advocate for workers’ rights demonstrates his commitment to economic justice. His tireless dedication to the students of 4j over the past four years show his passion for high-quality instruction that is founded on inclusion and sensitivity to all children. Lafer is a supportive colleague to fellow board members and a leader for the rights of students who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQ+, ASD, and who have historically underrepresented religious, cultural, or ethnic backgrounds. Because of his dedication to making our schools a place where every child can thrive, Lafer has my vote. I hope you will consider giving him yours.
LET’S PUT AN END TO EXPENSIVE TEXTBOOKS
Imagine trying to learn a second language with no textbook. My Japanese peers do not have to imagine. Many cannot afford their textbooks and workbooks and, as a result, are unable to complete necessary readings, homework assignments and activities.
As a University of Oregon student, I know firsthand that textbooks are too expensive, especially with a quarter system in which students must budget to purchase books three separate times a year. Further, my Japanese peers are not alone; in the past few years, textbook prices have increased three times faster than inflation, leading roughly 65 percent of students to continue to skip purchasing necessary materials.
Recently, students have been advocating for administrators to allocate money and time to train and incentivize faculty to adopt open textbooks and other openly licensed materials for their courses. Institutions like University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Maryland and Rutgers University have all successfully launched programs that have allowed countless students the opportunity to fully engage with their studies without financial burden.
Thousands of higher education faculty members across the United States have already signed the pledge for open educational resources (OER). Studies show that every dollar invested in OER grants saves students $10 to $20. This is why Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley should advocate for the expansion of OER on the federal level, freeing students to pursue their education without these significant financial burdens.