- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Recent editorials from North Carolina newspapers:

May 11

Fayetteville (N.C.) Observer on Afghanistan’s future:

In matters of war and international politics, a sense of perspective is a useful thing. That’s especially so in a place like Afghanistan.

Like many of his peers from Fort Bragg, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Colt has that perspective. He’s in Afghanistan as deputy commander of the 18th Airborne Corps, which is overseeing the end of America’s longest war. It’s his second deployment there. His first, a decade ago, was like a trip to a different country.

When Colt commanded the 1st Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment from the summer of 2002 until the summer of 2004, he recalls the capital city of Kabul as dark and lifeless at night. Ten years later, it’s filled with light and activity. The city is growing and thriving.

So are the country’s National Security Forces, which didn’t exist in 2004. Now 350,000 strong, the Afghan forces “don’t need our prompting anymore,” Colt told Observer reporter Drew Brooks last week. “They’re moving in the right direction.”

That’s good, because as the U.S. and its NATO allies prepare to largely withdraw, the world needs to know that the nation won’t revert to the dark place it was. We need some assurance that Afghanistan won’t slip back into the grip of fundamentalists like the Taliban, who turned the nation into a leading exporter of well-trained terrorists.

Even as military leaders prepare for the end of the international military coalition’s mission in Afghanistan, other Fort Bragg units are scattered about the country, showing the Taliban and other insurgents that they’re still ready for battle. The forays into the countryside are useful and reassuring to Afghan soldiers.

But will there be that kind of backup available six or seven months from now? The summer fighting season is underway in Afghanistan, and those shows of force may get deadly. But what about in next year’s fighting season?

The final decision about long-term American presence in Afghanistan will be made by President Obama, and so far, he’s holding his cards close. It’s unclear whether there will be a few thousand American troops left in the country next year, or 10,000, or none. Whatever the number, it’s got to be enough to prevent Afghanistan from slipping back into the hands of fundamentalists who embrace terrorism. Anything less is unacceptable.

Online:

http://www.fayobserver.com

___

May 11

Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal on G.I. scholarships:

To strengthen its economy, North Carolina needs a more highly skilled and talented workforce, yet every year untold numbers of people with those qualities here leave to move elsewhere.

Gov. Pat McCrory has a good idea for keeping them here.

The workers are, of course, military personnel who are leaving the service. Some have skills that translate easily to the civilian workforce. Others do not. But all have that invaluable military experience that makes for a great civilian employee.

McCrory realizes more veterans would stay in North Carolina if they could enroll in a state university at a reasonable price. Sure, they have their veterans’ benefits, but those benefits don’t always cover all of the costs of attending school and supporting a family, especially when the veteran would have to pay out-of-state tuition in the UNC system.

So here’s the governor’s idea: For their first year at a university, veterans would receive a scholarship worth as much as $7,500. That would offset the difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition. And then in their second year, they’d presumably have gained in-state status, so they’d pay the lower rates.

There’s no guaranteeing that a young veteran from another state who leaves the service and attends a UNC school will stay here after graduation. But the odds are pretty good that he or she will.

University officials have made this argument for years with regard to keeping out-of-state tuition low: Get talented youngsters here to attend UNC and there’s a good chance they will stay.

The McCrory plan is well designed, and it appropriately uses education lottery funds to pay for the scholarships. We think this idea is a winner for all.

Online:

http://www.journalnow.com

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May 12

Charlotte (N.C.) Observer on teacher law:

Gov. Pat McCrory and N.C. lawmakers are revisiting giving all teachers a much-needed pay raise. As the short legislative session gets under way this week, they should revisit another poor decision from last year - a law that ends teachers’ career status and substitutes it with a plan that gives the “top 25 percent” of the state’s teachers four-year contracts and $500 bonuses.

The teacher pay plan McCrory is proposing - if lawmakers approve it - might force a change anyway. In addition to giving teachers an immediate pay boost, his plan calls for replacing the current teacher compensation structure with a plan that raises all pay and offers teachers $3,000 pay increases every three years, plus more based on factors such as willingness to teach high-need subjects, teaching in high-need schools and taking on leadership roles.

Lawmakers should junk this law regardless. It’s unnecessary. Bad teachers could be fired before this law. The system only guaranteed them a hearing.

Last month, a Superior Court judge in Greensboro suspended the law in Guilford and Durham counties where lawsuits were filed. The judge clarified Friday that his injunction does not extend to other counties. Still, school systems statewide overwhelmingly disapprove of the law, with superintendents saying there’s no fair way to designate a top 25 percent when the majority of teachers do good work.

During the short session, lawmakers should ditch this law. It’s wasting taxpayer dollars in litigation.

Online:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com

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