- Associated Press - Monday, March 10, 2014

Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

The Columbus Dispatch, March 10

Getting Ohio youths more engaged in classes that would help prepare them for in-demand careers would benefit all: the students and their families, schools and employers who would have access to a better-trained work force. Gov. John Kasich’s idea to offer vocational education earlier, starting in middle school rather than high school, is worth consideration.

Though details remain to be fleshed out, Kasich spoke in his recent State of the State speech of being impressed with the career and technical education being offered in the state today. He remarked how a group of vocational-education students that he visited with last month were motivated, smart and “had a sense of direction …They were excited about what they were studying.”…

Today, more than 1 in 5 Ohio high-school students attend vocational programs, and those students have a remarkable high-school graduation rate, according to the Ohio Department of Education. Sixty percent go on to college or post-secondary training….

Education is not one-size-fits-all, and many well-compensated jobs don’t call for traditional college prep and a four-year degree.

Kasich’s idea to have career centers extend their reach to younger students merits exploring.

Online: http://bit.ly/1ncjaRg

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The Marietta Times, March 8

An ordinance that bans texting while driving, and use of all hand held devices while driving, became law in Marietta this week. While motorists will have a few months to get used to the idea, we hope people realize by now the real danger texting while driving presents.

Marietta City Council officially approved the ordinance this week, but city police won’t issue tickets for violations until July. In the meantime, they will issue warnings.

We hope motorists don’t use this time to text as much as possible. In fact, we hope motorists do whatever they can immediately to avoid texting while driving a car….

For those who think an outright ban is overkill, we want to remind you that texting and driving can do just that - kill. Texting and driving now kills more teens than drinking and driving. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that nearly 3,000 teens die each year in texting and driving crashes.

But it’s not just young people who need to watch out. Drivers of all ages must use good judgment and put down the phone. Nearly half of all drivers under the age of 35 send or read texts while driving and overall, 60 percent of all drivers use cell phones while driving…

Another fact to wrap your head around - you are two times more likely to crash if you drive and text.

The bottom line, don’t do it. Don’t talk on your cell phone, don’t text, keep your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road.

Online: http://bit.ly/1fjqMYl

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Warren Tribune Chronicle, March 7

The Ohio General Assembly should reject Gov. John Kasich’s request to grant school districts more calamity days….

The harsh winter weather that has caused most of the lost school days could easily last another month.

As the law stands, the districts would have to make up those days by cutting spring break short, extending the school year or canceling another scheduled day off. All those potential solutions seem preferable to denying children another one to five days of education.

One alternative for some districts is to use the so-called “blizzard bags.” These are homework assignments in lieu of makeup days when schools exceed their calamity allotment….

But busy work is no substitute for the classroom. And using the Internet for assignments - an option for schools using blizzard bags - fails to reach students in homes without Internet connections, without adequate technology and without adequate supervision….

The real solution is simple - make up the days.

Online: http://bit.ly/1isZ9E6

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The (Toledo) Blade, March 10

The state commission charged with modernizing the Ohio Constitution is set to meet this week. The major task on its agenda remains proposing constitutional reforms to end the corrupt partisan gerrymandering that continues to steal the power of Ohioans’ votes.

The Republican elected officials who control state government have rigged the process of drawing district boundaries for Ohio’s congressional delegation and General Assembly to ensure their party’s dominance well into the next decade. An example of this anti-democratic conduct: In 2012, Ohio voters gave GOP candidates 51 percent of votes cast in U.S. House elections. But because of the way the lines are fixed, Republicans hold 75 percent of Ohio’s House seats - 12 out of 16.

Ohio needs a better method of political districting to represent all voters fairly and equally. The first step in that process is removing it from the unchecked control of either party….

Ohio Republicans have shown their repeated willingness to engage in gerrymandering and vote suppression to preserve their party’s political power. They will not end these practices voluntarily….

Commission members will soon show whether voters made the right decision - or whether the commission represents another obstacle to reform.

Online: http://bit.ly/1cOv0qS

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