Great expectations: Two promising examples

Great expectations: Two promising examples

February 19th, 2014 in Opinion Times

Tuesday's newspaper headlined a story about a charter school with early student success as an example of "great expectations."

That same moniker could well apply to the story beneath the school piece -- one about older Americans being early winners with the Affordable Care Act, another example of great expectations for Americans.

In the charter school story, by Chattanooga Times Free Press reporter Kevin Hardy, we learn that urban 6-year-olds can be encouraged to achieve with motivated teachers a visit to a college campus and a basic presumption that college is their future, not just a dream.

"If kids are sitting on their feet or slouching, a teacher might say 'Is that how you would sit in college?'" Hardy reports.

In two short years, the upstart school has 300 students, a waiting list and test scores rivaling state and county scores even while 90 percent of its students are considered at risk because they live in poverty -- too often a predictor of very low scores.

How does health care for middle-aged Americans fit in this picture? Again: It's a matter of great expectations and a basic presumption of achievement. This time it was our government that finally came through with a law -- not an outside charter start-up -- to help Americans find, keep and pay for private insurance.

Under the old model of market-driven health care, many people in their 50s and 60s found themselves rejected by insurers and struggling to cover rising medical costs. They were still too young to receive Medicare but just old enough to be the first laid-off in corporate cost-cuts during the recession.

Along with more than 3.3 million ACA enrollees, including 25 percent who are younger healthy Americans between 18 and 34, these middle-agers have been signing up for the new model of market-driven health care coverage and submitting new-patient forms at doctor's offices and filling prescriptions at pharmacies.

Associated Press writer Carla Johnson talked with one. Chicagoan Maureen Grey, 58, has been laid off twice from full-time jobs in the past five years. In that time, Grey saw her income drop from $60,000 to $17,800 a year, and she was uninsured for 18 months before she chose a marketplace plan for $68 a month.

Would anyone dare like to imply to Grey that she is paying for an entitlement? Or would conservatives prefer to tell her she is lazy and undeserving of health care? Would anyone like to tell the youngsters at the Chattanooga Charter School of Excellence to stay home and wait until they are old enough to join a gang?

Great expectations: It's more than a worn-out book title. It's a belief that with enough effort something good will happen even without advance proof. It's not accepting the chant of naysayers.

With great expectations, belief is often the hardest part. The rest is the journey, and in these two instances we see the beginnings of early and promising proof.