- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

The (Columbus) Dispatch, Oct. 11

Ohio, a national laughingstock for the weak oversight and conflicts of interest that have dogged its charter schools, finally has embraced serious reform with the passage of House Bill 2 on Wednesday.

This law is a game-changer. It makes leaps toward ending mediocrity, blatant self-dealing by charter-school profiteers and mismanagement and secrecy by charter-school operators soaking up hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.

“This bill puts Ohio’s charter-school community on the road to respectability,” state Auditor Dave Yost said.

More important, it gives children a fair chance at a quality education and allows real school choice to blossom in Ohio. For the poorest trapped in failing urban schools or those with particular needs, charter schools are an escape valve.

House Bill 2 succeeds by respecting a balance. As the Thomas B. Fordham Institute commented, “This bill significantly strengthens the accountability structures that govern Ohio’s charter-school sector without compromising the school-level autonomy that is critical to the charter-school model.

“If implemented with fidelity, the bill’s provisions hold the promise of dramatically improving the educational outcomes for 120,000 students who attend more than 350 Ohio charter schools.”

Online:

https://bit.ly/1G0TnGe

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The (Toledo) Blade, Oct. 11

About 6,000 drug offenders will be released from federal prisons within weeks, their terms cut short by new sentencing guidelines. Their release reflects not just the revised, retroactive guidelines enacted by the U.S. Sentencing Commission, but also the nation’s growing concern about the number of citizens it jails.

About one of every 100 Americans is incarcerated, one-third for drug crimes. Freeing nearly half of nonviolent drug offenders is a bold and necessary first step in restoring a criminal justice system burdened by Draconian sentencing laws of the 1980s and 1990s.

Although America has just under 5 percent of the world’s population, it imprisons about 22 percent of the world’s inmates, in part because of aggressive drug prosecution and “three strikes” laws adopted by 23 states and the federal government. Since 1980, the federal prison population has spiked by 800 percent, and federal prisons are nearly 40 percent over capacity.

The sentences come at great cost not only to prisoners, but also to taxpayers. Prisons consume one-third of the Justice Department’s $27 billion annual budget.

Under relaxed sentencing guidelines that were issued last year, about 46,000 of the nation’s 100,000 drug offenders are eligible for release if they meet certain conditions, including good behavior in prison. Each case will be reviewed by a federal judge.

Online:

https://bit.ly/1ZvdEKk

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Akron Beacon-Journal, Oct. 9

Hillary Clinton took a predictable path in opposing the Trans Pacific Partnership. The former secretary of state declared this week as the negotiations concluded: ” . based on what I know so far, I can’t support this agreement.” Remember 2008, when Clinton and Barack Obama flirted during the Ohio primary with renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement? That played well to many Democratic voters. Soon, the matter faded. Neither Obama nor Clinton has raised the subject much the past seven years.

Three years ago, Clinton described the Trans Pacific Partnership as setting “the gold standard in trade agreements to open, free, transparent, fair trade.” Now it is the presidential campaign season, and in seeking the White House, Clinton has been reinforcing her left flank.

So which is it, “gold standard” or something undeserving of support?

The trade deal has been a decade in the works, involving the United States and 11 other countries along the Pacific Rim, comprising 40 percent of the global economy and one-third of world trade. It makes substantial advances in reducing tariffs and other trade barriers. American farmers gain much wider access to markets. So do makers of auto products and communication technology.

One area of clear American advantage is the service industry. The agreement opens the way to such strengths as finance, engineering, education and software. It pares back obstacles to small businesses entering markets overseas. It sets up protections for Internet traffic and e-commerce. These are all avenues to creating export-driven jobs, which pay at higher levels on average.

Online:

https://bit.ly/1LEzBw5

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The (Cleveland) Plain-Dealer, Oct. 10

Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions among the young in our cities.

A recent spate of tragic killings tied to armed young men in Cleveland is but the most visible symptom.

Addressing this epidemic of gun violence requires initiatives that cut across disciplines and involve more than just tough anti-gang enforcement, saner gun laws and engagement from gun manufacturers as well as the community- although those actions are needed, too.

Like all chronic ills, young people’s addiction to guns in our cities can be treated and maybe even cured.

But, first, we need to treat gun violence as a public health issue- which is how U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy describes it -and recognize that gun violence is preventable.

It is time for a new paradigm.

Last month, gun violence in Cleveland claimed the lives of five-year-old Ramon Burnett, three-year-old Major Howard and five-month-old Aavielle Wakefield. Two teens face aggravated murder charges for allegedly killing Ramon. An arrest warrant has been issued for a 22-year-old suspect in the murder of Major. Police have not identified a suspect or motive in Aavielle’s homicide.

Both Ramon and Major were victims of gang-related drive-by shootings, according to police.

“We cannot and will not stand for this,” said a stunned Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson in the wake of the two killings.

Online:

https://bit.ly/1LJGuCF

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