- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 27, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Lexington (Kentucky) Herald-Leader, on standardized testing: Almost everyone bemoans overtesting in public schools. Yet standardized test results zoom to the top of the Kentucky.com charts when they’re released, as they were in recent weeks.

People are interested in how schools and districts score even if they think testing is overdone. …

Without measurable goals, it’s impossible to say how much progress is being made. Metrics are the foundation of accountability. …

One measure in which Kentucky still lags is local and state spending per student in elementary and secondary schools, which is 80 percent of the national average.

Kentucky spent $7,827 in state and local funds per student compared with 20th-ranked Virginia’s $9,958 in 2005-06.

Kentucky schools in the poorest districts receive just 83 percent of state and local funding per student available in districts with richer property tax bases. …

This was the first time that all Kentucky high school juniors were required to take the ACT, a college-entrance exam. …

When the Kentucky legislature mandated the ACT for all juniors, the hope was that early results would enable schools to fix weaknesses in teaching and curriculum and spark interest in higher education among kids who hadn’t thought of college.

Worthy goals. Someone should figure out how to measure whether it’s working well enough to justify the $1 million-plus cost to taxpayers.

On the Net:

https://tinyurl.com/4xps3d

The (New Jersey) Daily Journal, on U.S. military command:

Gen. David Petraeus yielded the top command in Iraq to Gen. Ray Odierno last week. …

Odierno, who has extensive experience in Iraq, may be the best man for that job, as Petraeus said, but he will have to prove that to the American and Iraqi people by continuing what has been called the Petraeus doctrine. The doctrine of the former top commander in Iraq entails much more than a troop surge, which helped reduce the violence in Baghdad and Anbar province. …

It emphasizes U.S. troops knowing the communities within which they operate, and stresses the importance of economic and political progress in securing the support of Iraqis and Americans in a unified effort….

U.S. military commanders on the ground in Afghanistan are saying more U.S. troops will be needed to fight against the insurgency. That could be a tough order to fill, given the number of troops bogged down in President Bush’s ill-advised adventure in Iraq. But we need to remember that Afghanistan is where al-Qaida trained the 9/11 terrorists and planned the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

The situation in Afghanistan is difficult and getting worse, but with the right tactics and strategy, it isn’t hopeless. …

On the Net:

https://www.thedailyjournal.com

The (Colorado Springs, Colo.) Gazette, on North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il:

The current health status of North Korea’s Kim Jong Il is still a matter of speculation.

The South Korean intelligence service has told Korean legislative leaders that it is likely that the North Korean dictator had a stroke sometime in mid-August, but that he has been treated and has recovered enough to talk and walk. There are no signs of unrest.

Speculation about Kim Jong-il’s health became rampant when he was not present for the recent celebration of the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the North Korean state. …

The United States and the countries surrounding North Korea have been involved in talks for years designed to get the “hermit kingdom” to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

After blowing up cooling towers in June at the country’s Yongbyon nuclear facility as a gesture of good will, North Korea has since backtracked and hinted that it might resume the weapons program.

At this point none of Kim Jong Il’s three known sons (or anybody else) has been declared the likely successor. So North Korea’s neighbors are afraid that a succession struggle might induce chaos in the country that could spill over its borders.

It may seem strange, but for the moment we hope this despicable dictator stays healthy enough to anoint a successor – or for various factions to maneuver in advance – and avoid too much instability in a regime that richly deserves to crumble.

On the Net:

https://tinyurl.com/4rrsg3

Chicago Sun-Times, on decreasing nuclear threat in Iran:

Limit gas exports to Iran to cut nuke threat. …

For decades, the world’s top objective in the Middle East has been to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. …

As hopes of a peace deal have faded, a huge threat to stability and peace in the Middle East has materialized in the nuclear ambitions of Iran. Every credible source believes Tehran, ruled by Islamist radicals who deny the Holocaust and openly declare Israel should be wiped off the map, is well on its way to producing a nuclear weapon. Israel thinks Iran could have one as soon as 2010. …

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was elected last week to succeed resigning Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as head of the centrist Kadima party. Thanks to Israel’s fractured and fractious politics, Olmert’s resignation means Livni must form her own coalition with other political parties within six weeks in order to become prime minister. …

As tough as her political task is, it pales in comparison with the challenge posed by Iran. … Realizing the menace a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to Mideast and world peace, the United States and France are among the alarmed nations that have joined Israel in trying to impose more meaningful sanctions. …

A decision by the international community to restrict gas exports to Iran would lead to discontent among its citizens already unhappy with theocratic rule and could be just the thing to persuade Tehran to stop its nuclear program.

On the Net:

www.sun-times.com

Asahi Shimbun, Tokyo, Japan, on food safety:

The top two officials of the agricultural ministry resigned Friday over the ministry’s inadequate response to some companies’ sales of tainted rice designated for industrial use as rice fit for food. Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Seiichi Ota and his vice minister, Toshiro Shirasu, stepped down amid a public outcry over the latest food safety scandal to hit the nation. …

Now, many Japanese consumers must feel that the top farm policy officials have abandoned their efforts to get to the bottom of the problem and install effective measures to prevent a recurrence, instead of fulfilling their responsibilities, as expected. This is really distressing. …

The farm ministry said it conducted nearly 100 on-the-spot investigations of Mikasa Foods Co., one of the companies accused of selling tainted rice as food, but failed to detect any wrongdoing. Obviously, the ministry’s investigations were shockingly slipshod.

Even after the misconduct was confirmed, the ministry was indecisive, failing to immediately reveal the names of the companies that unknowingly purchased the tainted rice. The two officials refused to admit their ministry’s responsibility despite its repeated acts of incompetence in dealing with the problem. That was certainly enough to cost them their jobs. …

The government must make a thorough investigation to uncover the root causes of this scandal as well as the government’s failures and then take steps to prevent it from happening again. The government’s responsibility goes beyond simply dealing with the consequences. …

On the Net:

https://tinyurl.com/4upfal

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