- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

May 20

The Decatur (Ala.) Daily on school segregation:

In 1954, racial segregation suffered a fatal blow when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal schools were unconstitutional. From there, the civil rights movement gained unstoppable momentum, leading to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Gradually but inexorably, public schools, especially in the South, began to have student bodies that reflected the racial makeup of the communities in which they were located.

Now, 60 years later, there is concern that much of the nation is creeping back to a segregated education system. Ironically, only the South has bucked that trend.

The Associated Press reported that, outside of Texas, no Southern state is in the top five in terms of most segregated for African-American students. But more than half of African-Americans in New York, Illinois, Maryland and Michigan attend schools where 90 percent or more are minority.

In New York, Texas and California, more than half of all Latino students go to schools that are 90 percent or higher minority.

In most segregated schools, observers and critics say the student population is low-income, and that a lack of support and funding are contributing to the problems. A student at an urban Chicago high school said the school does not offer physical education and art classes, and advanced placement classes are only available online.

Too many schools are sliding back the old separate but equal standing that the Supreme Court found completely unequal 60 years ago.

Reports and studies of public education have found for more than a decade that students in the United States are trailing many of their fellow students in other developed nations. Part of the problem is lack of academic rigor, but even more problematic is the lack of support and funding for public schools.

In an era of economic turbulence, too many politicians want to cut spending instead of investing in education and infrastructure, the very things that create jobs and opportunity.

There are no easy answers to the resegregation of our schools. Economic and geopolitical factors weigh heavily in the problem. But it should not be difficult for thinking people to understand the value of education and the importance of funding it at adequate levels.

Without a strong public education system, this country will become less competitive in a global economy, and poverty and disillusionment will spread like a drought.




May 19

The Gadsden (Ala.) Times on protecting the coffee supply:

In the mornings, everyone seems to be firing up a coffee maker and rinsing out a favorite cup, or heading for the closest barista or drive-thru window for a needed caffeine rush before work.

You might be surprised to learn that the United States actually doesn’t rank very high on the list of coffee consuming countries.

According to Euromonitor, a market research firm based in London, the U.S. is No. 16, each citizen drinking .931 of a cup of coffee per day. (The Netherlands is No. 1 at 2.414 cups a day.)

Do the math, however, and that’s about 295.7 million cups of coffee a day and 107.9 billion cups a year in the U.S. Others may like it more, but Americans like their java a lot.

More of them - 34 percent of coffee drinkers, according to the National Coffee Association - are choosing beverages brewed from gourmet beans grown on tiny farms in the higher altitudes of Central America.

Those farms are facing an outbreak of coffee rust fungus that is devastating the region. It already has inflicted $1 billion in damage and is threatening to reduce production by 15 percent to 40 percent.

That, of course, will make a good cup of coffee more expensive and harder to find. More significantly, it could throw a half-million people out of work and into poverty.

The U.S. Agency for International Development has responded by joining with Texas A&M; University’s World Coffee Research center in a $5 million effort to combat the problem.

The goal is to develop more rust-resistant types of coffee and help individual countries get a quicker handle on the fungus.

We think it’s a worthy goal, although we’re sure some folks will see it as a boondoggle to ensure that coffee elitists don’t have to dig deeper into their pockets for their high-priced beverages …




May 17

Tuscaloosa (Ala.) News on political endorsements:

What’s this? Has the Alabama Education Association had a “Road to Damascus” conversion, suddenly struck blind by the light of conservatism? Will it suddenly quit marching in lockstep to the cadence of liberal Democratic drill sergeants?

You might believe that if you bought into some of the political advertising the organization has been paying for. Of course, openly, the AEA is still the same teachers union it’s always been, bashing conservative lawmakers for education reform efforts like the Alabama Accountability Act and lending its support to the same agenda it has always supported.

But covertly, it’s spending its money on this year’s legislative elections in an effort to unseat Republican lawmakers who have not been friends of the AEA by claiming that they are - wait for it - too liberal. Take, for instance, Rep. Alan Harper, R-Northport.

“He says he is a conservative but voted to bring the liberal agenda to Alabama,” a recent mailer said. “Rep. Alan Harper voted to bring Obamacare to Alabama.”

The AEA’s political action committee, A VOTE, paid for the mailer. It goes on to add, “It’s a good thing Gov. (Robert) Bentley and Senate Republicans stopped Harper and (Speaker of the House Mike) Hubbard.”

There it is, AEA giving praise to a Republican governor and Republicans in the Senate for saving the state from marauding liberals and wolves in sheep’s clothing. The next thing you know, AEA will be so right-wing that it will be demanding prayer return to the classroom and advocating open carry for firearms owners on school property.

Well, we doubt it. Does anybody really think that the AEA faults legislators for not being conservative enough?

… Harper is hardly a rigid, right-wing ideologue …

We don’t support or oppose either Harper or his GOP primary opponent, Brian Foley, who has had campaign materials paid for by A VOTE. We no longer make political endorsements. But we do think you can tell something about the organizations that do. Voters need to know who is behind both praise and condemnation of candidates. It reveals a lot about the candidate.



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