- The Washington Times - Monday, August 4, 2003

Gutknecht for chairman

It’s worth mentioning that Rep. Gil Gutknecht, Minnesota Republican, has returned more than $100,000 of his 2002 office budget to the general fund.

“We try to run a tight ship,” says the congressman. “I’m always cognizant of the fact that we are spending taxpayers’ dollars. This office doesn’t belong to my staff and me.”

Those are rare words coming from a congressman. But what’s really worth noting is that since Mr. Gutknecht was first elected to Congress in 1994, he has returned more than $800,000 in taxpayer funds — money other congressmen have no trouble spending — to the general piggy bank.

“If we expect other federal agencies to be more fiscally responsible,” as the congressman explains it, “we have to do so ourselves.”

Mr. Gutknecht, we’d like to point out, is a member of the House Budget Committee. However, we recommend the congressman be elevated to Budget Committee chairman as soon as the next vacancy occurs.

Skipped acting

Hollywood High School opened its doors 100 years ago Sept. 13, a centennial observance that stretches all the way to the floor of the U.S. Senate.

“Hollywood High School lives up to its name,” says Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat. “Judy Garland, Mickey Rooney and Lana Turner were on the school’s roster. Carol Burnett was the editor of the school paper. And scores of other celebrities received their education at Hollywood High.”

The high school opened in 1903 on the second floor of a former bakery. It had an enrollment that year of 56 students and three teachers. Two years later, construction on the familiar Roman temple-style school began at Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue, where the school still stands today.

We should also point out that it wasn’t just Hollywood celebrities who received their diplomas at Hollywood High, but several future leaders of the U.S. government, not the least being former Secretary of State Warren Christopher.

Actually, Mr. Christopher spent his earliest years in North Dakota before his family moved to Hollywood. And nothing in North Dakota, culturally speaking, he wrote in his memoirs, could have ever prepared him for Hollywood.

Other less-glitzy grads of Hollywood High include the late California Congressman Joseph Franklin Holt III, who after World War II headed California’s Young Republicans, as well as former FCC Chairman William Kennard and former U.S. Postmaster Anthony Frank.

See John run

Uncle Sam has received the annual report card for public school students in this country and he’s not very proud of his nieces and nephews.

Consider that every school day, 3,000 secondary students in the United States drop out. Once the 2003-2004 school year gets under way, nearly 540,000 young people will walk away from the classroom without earning a high school diploma.

The nation’s high school graduation rate is 69 percent, although the number is worse in urban areas where school districts graduate fewer than half of their students. Those who continue on to college can find the going difficult.

“About 40 percent of four-year college students and 63 percent of community college students are enrolling in remedial courses in reading, writing or math when they enter college,” says Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat.

“And although approximately 70 percent of high school graduates enroll in college, only 7 percent from low-income families will have earned a bachelor’s degree by age 24.”

Late last week, Mrs. Murray introduced the PASS (Pathways for All Students to Succeed) Act, which would hire “literacy coaches” to strengthen essential reading and writing skills. It would also provide grants for more academic counselors to ensure students have individualized plans to prepare for college.

The most recent 2002 National Assessment of Educational Progress shows the reading achievement of 12th-grade students has declined over the last five years, with 33 percent of senior boys and 20 percent of senior girls reading below the “basic level.”

Presidente Bush

America has always been a melting pot. What’s different today is that English is being heard less and less.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat, now cites figures showing “that the majority of the nearly 40 million Hispanic Americans rely significantly on Spanish-language broadcast media for their news and information.”

“Forty percent — nearly 16 million — of them rely predominantly on Spanish-language broadcast media,” reveals Mr. Kennedy, “and 25 percent — nearly 10 million — rely exclusively on it.”

Congress on several occasion has voted against making English the official language of the United States.

John McCaslin, a nationally syndicated columnist, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or jmccaslin@washingtontimes.com.

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