- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

August 19

Anniston (Alabama) Star on Common Core:

In Alabama, the public schools policy known as Common Core is called “College and Career Ready Standards.” In a perverse twist, the standards, both in Alabama and across the country, are furthering the careers of ideologues dedicated to weakening public education in the United States.

In this way, they are a handy method of rallying the like-minded troops and filling the collection plate at the same time.

Here’s an example. The Washington Post recently discovered a fund-raising appeal from the Christian conservatives at the Family Research Council. Common Core, the Family Research Council email informs its supporters, is a “morally corrupt federal takeover of education” devised in support of creating “a nation where children are indoctrinated with a liberal ideology that celebrates sexual perversion, worships the creation rather than the Creator, all at the expense of academic achievement and our nation’s Christian heritage.”

The Post’s Valerie Strauss responds, “Those must be some mighty powerful standards.”

Or not.

Common Core was initiated at the state level with the encouragement of educational nonprofits. Of course, in the era of President Obama, facts don’t mean as much to the president’s die-hard opponents. They live in a fantasy world where the president is a non-U.S. citizen bent on destroying the United States. Residents of that fever swamp have no problem believing Common Core tall tales.

A report released earlier this year by the Southern Poverty Law Center suggests that Common Core opposition is rooted in an ideology that’s existed well before a group of governors dreamed up the policy.

As the writers of the Southern Poverty Law Center report point out, the shame is that this effort is a distraction from a broader discussion about Common Core and whether its generalized standards for U.S. students are raising the bar high enough.

That conversation is being drowned out by far-right opportunists offering a dumbed-down argument against what they dismiss as “Obamacore.”




August 18

Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser on Alabama State:

In the best of all possible worlds, we would approve of Gov. Robert Bentley’s suggestion that the Legislature might pony up more funding to help financially struggling Alabama State University.

Bentley made the remark at an Aug. 9 meeting of the ASU board of trustees, saying he planned to provide whatever help he could with the school’s dire fiscal problems.

There’s no question ASU is teetering on the edge of irreversible damage to its credibility and future prospects, due to past financial mismanagement.

The university now carries $235 million in direct debt, according to Moody’s Investors Service, which has downgraded ASU’s credit rating three times in the past 18 months.

The severe crunch has forced ASU officials to use reserve funds to service debt.

Lack of financial accountability also factored strongly in the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools’ June decision to place ASU on warning it may lose its accreditation - a potential disaster for current students, faculty and indeed the entire community.

But, while we appreciate Bentley’s pledge of support during a tumultuous time, expecting the Legislature to quickly throw more money at the flailing school is simply unrealistic.

Nor would it be particularly smart or justifiable.

Time will tell if new leadership at ASU can correct the course, ushering in a new era of integrity, transparency and selfless devotion to the university’s future by all in charge. We hope it will.




August 19

Decatur (Alabama) Daily on toll road:

Though a number of hurdles - and years - remain before the first concrete pier could be set in the Tennessee River, it is becoming apparent just how quickly the concept of a toll bridge on the north side of Decatur has been adopted as an ALDOT goal.

A meeting for public input was held, but apparently any input opposing the toll bridge was not up for consideration. And as it turns out, the pitch that this is a “toll bridge” is, if not a mistruth, at least a half-truth. What the Alabama Department of Transportation is pushing for Alabama 20 in Decatur is a toll road, replacing our current highway.

The proposed toll road/bridge would be built using the latest model for such wildly expensive projects: private dollars designed to turn a profit for investors. As the bridge, according to its latest design, will be remarkable close to the Hudson Memorial Bridge, investors worry that commuter traffic will bypass it in favor of the free route.

While it is necessary, state and local leaders say, to accommodate heavy truck traffic from the huge plants along the river west of Decatur, those trucks alone will not generate enough revenue to pay for the bridge. Hence the need for a toll road.

Mayor Don Kyle and members of the City Council have taken a near-unanimous position of “I don’t think so” on this toll road, which would turn the free path between the north side of the Hudson bridge and interstates 65/565 into a slow, circuitous route with stop lights.

It’s as close as city leaders can likely afford to get to outright opposition to ALDOT, which tends to demand patronage from our local and statewide-elected officials any time we need projects such as widening of the Beltline or traffic-control upgrades at busy intersections.

The 16-member Metropolitan Planning Commission, composed of elected officials and area transportation department heads, was told where to send “thank you” notes for the project that presumably will improve traffic at the Wilson Street/Sixth Avenue interchange.

So when Kyle says he “can’t support” the idea of a toll road north of the river - where a free, taxpayer-built highway now stands - he speaks for the vast majority of his constituents.



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