Wednesday, October 21, 2009

IN Touch: Sick Kids in Class (update)

Last Friday, I posted my most recent entry on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog. The good news is that my post was published in today's print edition of The Indianapolis Star. The bad news is that, once again, my post was been edited in a way that removes part of the point that I was trying to make (note the entire last paragraph that was omitted). So, just for the hell of it, below is my original post. I've lined through the parts that were omitted from the printed version and underlined additions made by the Star’s editorial staff. What do you think? Were the changes made by the Star's editorial staff appropriate? Do they change the meaning?

As we go through the process of debating the merits of various proposals for health-care reform, we should also take the time to examine certain hidden health-care-related societal costs.

We hope that, when faced with a sick child, most parents would keep that a sick child home from school and take the child to see a doctor. But how many parents can't do this keep their child home because they don't have alternate child-care arrangements? And what are the ramifications of sick children being sent to school because a parent can't stay home with the child? Similarly, how many children stay sicker longer or return to school earlier than they should because the family cannot afford to see the doctor or pay for medicines? And what is the cost to society for sick children attending school and no doubt sickening other children?

We teach our children not to steal or cheat. When it comes to their classmates, we teach them not to fight or hurt one another. But how many parents extend that teaching to include a responsibility not to expose a classmate to germs?

As a society, we don't tolerate violent children. So why do we tolerate parents who send sick children to school? And what can we, as a society, do to help those parents and their children learn right from wrong and be in a position where the child can be safely kept home from school when necessary without forcing the family to make unacceptable sacrifices?

And what can we do to help schools with budgets determined by the number of children in attendance? Schools should not be encouraging sick children to attend classes so that the school can receive additional funds.

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