The Canton Repository, Sept. 17
Until Ohio stops trying to measure every district — big, small, urban, rural, rich, poor — with a one-size-fits-all test that doesn’t take into account the unlevel playing field inherent to such a diverse state, what conclusions can anyone really draw from report cards that turn one day’s raw numbers into a yearlong letter grade?
On Thursday, the state released its annual school report cards. The results were a mixed bag of positives — higher raw numbers at the same time the state again raised the bar on what it considers a passing grade for some of the tests — and such negatives as continued B’s and C’s (or worse) for districts that by other measures are told they far exceed state (and in some cases, national) averages.
Over the past few years, Ohio has phased in tougher learning standards, changed the tests it uses and raised expectations of what students should know when they graduate. We applaud the state for setting lofty goals.
At the same time, we remind the state — and parents and boards of education — that we all must look well beyond the “snapshot of performance” testing provides to seek out, find and celebrate successes in other ways that often can be as meaningful and significant.
The Columbus Dispatch, Sept. 15
Last Friday, as America’s attention was focused on Irma, a monster hurricane bearing down on Florida, the nation hit a different sort of high-water mark: The national debt exceeded $20 trillion.
Earlier that day, President Donald Trump signed a bill into law suspending the debt ceiling; months of pent-up demand from budget maneuvers, employed to avoid exceeding the cap, prompted the Treasury Department to begin borrowing billions more.
Surpassing the $20 trillion debt mark is an indicator of the nation’s perilous financial condition. Every dollar we spend today ties up money in future budgets for interest payments; these are dollars that won’t be available in coming years for government, social services and defense.
Eventually, the government will face some kind of default, either on its obligations to its creditors or its promises to citizens. Politicians’ dreams of robust economic growth — just around the next corner! — will not bail us out of this Category 5 financial storm.
Our nation’s standard of living faces a dire threat. Solutions exist, but Congress and the administration must work together to enact structural fiscal reform, take a scalpel to spending, and begin paying down the debt.
The News-Herald, Sept. 16
During the period of April 2 through Sept. 3, the Ohio Highway Patrol Chardon Post investigated a total of seven crashes in the county resulting in nine fatalities. More than half of them — 57 percent, or six of the nine deaths — were the result of a driver failing to yield at a stop sign.
Perhaps some people are in too big of a hurry. It seems that many people don’t want to wait very long for anything these days, including going through a stop sign.
Then there’s the issue of distracted driving. The dangers of texting while driving are obvious, but even things like talking on a cellphone, eating, putting on makeup, or chatting with other occupants of a vehicle, which divert a driver’s attention, can prove hazardous. And while automakers are adding more controls, buttons and other high-tech gadgets to the dashboards of cars aimed at enhancing the driving experience, these features also can take a driver’s eyes off the road while a vehicle is moving.
Maybe it’s time to re-emphasize that driving is a serious activity that requires a driver’s complete attention.
The Marietta Times, Sept. 18
Some support President Donald Trump’s plan to roll back a perceived regulatory assault on coal and affordable electricity.
But some federal initiatives on mining make sense.
One is a proposed $1 million study on the health effects of living near a surface mine. The Interior Department had planned to have the research conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.
But now, officials at the National Academies are being told to shelve the study. Budget considerations have been cited.
Indeed, the government needs to stop spending money like a drunken sailor. But this could be an important study — and it is not one commissioned in an attempt to harm the coal industry. It was actually requested by West Virginia officials in 2015.
A scientific, objective study could balance claims by some that people living near any coal mine are at risk. If not, we ought to know it. And if the claims have any basis in fact, we ought to know that, too.
Trump should allow the study to proceed. Getting at the truth is important.