- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

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May 30

The Gadsden Times on summer reading programs:

“Summer slide” sounds like a fun way to spend an afternoon, particularly if said slide has a water source and the day is extraordinarily sticky.

In the real world, those two words are a stark reminder of how long 10 weeks can be.

The National Summer Learning Association reports that during the summer break, disadvantaged children “tread water at best or even fall behind. It’s what we call ‘summer slide,’ while better-off children build their skills steadily over the summer months.”

Summer reading programs are about to start, and they can help put a stop to the slide for participants.

Both the Gadsden and the Rainbow City public libraries are using “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read” this year.

Getting parents and siblings involved is key, several studies have found, and reading has benefits for all involved. Community members who responded to a call for comments on Facebook reported stronger ties with their children when they read together and better academic outcomes for their children as they grew up.

For those who prefer research to anecdotes, the Library of Virginia partnered with the Virginia Department of Education and an international research company, McREL, to study the impact of summer reading programs. The study started in 2013, and the final report was issued in four parts in December.

Among several findings, “Children and teens who attended summer reading programs performed better academically and experienced greater gains in their academic performance than their nonparticipating peers. Participants out-performed nonparticipants on tests across all measures and grades, kindergarten through 8.

The effect of summer reading programs did not differ by gender, limited English proficiency status or economically disadvantaged status.”

Ponder that last sentence for a moment. Summer reading programs covered by this study - and there were dozens upon dozens throughout Virginia - produced the same benefits to those children who took part regardless of gender, limited proficiency in English or economic disadvantages. Summer reading might not be the “great” equalizer, but it seems to be a darn good one, especially when participation starts young.

Online:

http://www.gadsdentimes.com/

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May 29

The Montgomery Advertiser on gun rights:

Open-carry gun groups in Alabama are winning the battle to show off their holstered weapons in more and more public spaces.

While that may technically be their right under the state’s ever laxer gun control laws, it’s not a victory for the general public that feels intimidated and fearful at the sight of unknown persons parading firearms everywhere.

In 2014 and 2015, a few Alabama gun-rights advocates pushed the open-carry envelope by showing up at private polling places, such as churches used on election days, with their weapons on display.

State law is so weak that, although the church owners may object to visible weapons or even post signs saying guns are banned, it’s not really a crime to open carry unless a church official asks the offender to leave. If he or she refuses, it’s considered trespassing, and a wrist-slap is delivered.

Meanwhile other voters, including parents who bring children with them to the polls, are free to feel alarmed. And the scary prospect of intentional voter intimidation is raised.

But private polling sites were just the first step down the slippery slope of wild-west gun flaunting.

As the Anniston Star reported, open-carry firearm rights are now being extended in places as varied as museums dedicated to civil-rights era marches, animal shelters, the Selma-Dallas County Public Library, Selma City Hall if council members aren’t in session, parts of airports and other public areas.

The changes link back to an expansive open-carry law passed in 2013 by state lawmakers who supinely do the will of the National Rifle Association, no matter how the organization’s dictates might imperil the public.

Too spineless to object much to the increasing demands, the state Attorney General’s office has been rubberstamping complaints from open-carry advocates and sending letters informing myriad agencies they’re now open-carry zones, so suck it up.

Local officials, cowed by the mighty powers of Montgomery’s craven legislative and judicial leaders, do as they’re told.

With legal authority, unfortunately, on the side of extreme gun-rights individuals who don’t respect other citizens’ right to feel safe in public, it seems little can be done to hinder the open-carry movement.

When it comes to private commercial spaces, such as retail stores, consumers can vote with their feet and not shop at stores that allow open carry.

But boycotting a library, airport, courthouse or other government office isn’t quite so convenient. In fact, being forced to do so because of the NRA’s tyranny is an outrage.

Citizens who want to help stem the tide can join together, form protests, lobby legislators and vote out of office those who refuse to listen to calls for responsible gun regulation.

It’s going to be a long battle, but the cause is worthy.

Online:

http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/

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June 1

The Dothan Eagle on the state’s attorney general’s advice on transgender students and school bathrooms:

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has taken a page from the Roy Moore playbook, telling school officials in Alabama to ignore the Obama administration’s directive on transgender students and school bathrooms.

Last month, school officials received a joint letter from the federal departments of Justice and Education containing guidelines directing that transgender students be allowed to use facilities based on gender identity rather than physical gender.

Last week, Strange had Alabama join 10 other states in a lawsuit against the administration over the directive. He now tells school officials to disregard the directive until the lawsuit is addressed.

That may well be bad advice.

The circumstances are different - the federal school bathroom directive isn’t legally binding - but Strange’s message to school officials is uncomfortably similar to Chief Justice Roy Moore’s order to state probate judges to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite federal action that mandated such. Moore is now suspended from office and facing possible ouster pending a trial before the Court of the Judiciary.

And the school bathroom directive does carry a warning that failure to comply will put federal funding at risk, which Strange characterizes as an empty threat.

Considering that Alabama is third among the 50 states in its dependence of federal funding, and expects an estimated $3 billion in federal education funds in the upcoming fiscal year, Strange’s advice poses an expensive gamble for all Alabama students.

Online:

http://www.dothaneagle.com/

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