- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

___

Dec. 15

The Montgomery Advertiser on Alabama’s high school graduation rates:

Last week’s announcement Alabama’s high school graduation rates were artificially inflated over the past several years, soaring from 72 percent in 2011 to 89 percent in 2015, is another blow for the state’s beleaguered education system.



As the Montgomery Advertiser’s Brian Lyman reported, Alabama State Schools Superintendent Michael Sentance said the incorrect numbers discovered through a federal audit and internal review were the result of two factors.

The Alabama State Department of Education continued to use alternative Alabama Occupational Diplomas, not just diplomas earned in alignment with academic studies, in calculating graduation rates, despite two warnings for the U.S. Department of Education that was forbidden.

That makes ALSDE leaders appear to have been asleep at the wheel. But, according to Sentance, the alternative diploma errors account for only a very small percentage of the inflated rate and the OUD is no longer awarded.

Second, the investigation found that ALSDE did not provide proper oversight of how local school systems reported credits, leading to some students earning diplomas without meeting required standards.

This despite the reams of evidence - including dismal standardized test scores that have shown little significant improvement in recent years - that should have made it evident the sudden rise in the graduation rate to the highest in the nation had to be hogwash.

It has been clear at least since the 2012 scandal over some Montgomery Public Schools teachers and administrators improperly changing high school students’ grades in a credit recovery program that incompetent oversight of districts’ grading policies was a serious problem at ALSDE. And probably not just in Montgomery.

Investigations into the MPS grading issues, which led to the suspension of seven educators, found that the culture at ALSDE actually encouraged improper grade changes.

Why weren’t comprehensive internal quality controls of all grading and diploma-granting mechanisms established then to ensure the department was receiving correct data?

It’s failure to do so abetted the incorrect reporting of the graduation rates, which no doubt benefited the Alabama State Board of Education, then-Superintendent Tommy Bice, and other education officials in the state, whose leadership appeared to be making a difference to struggling schools.

But the losers were Alabama’s students. Not only the students in classrooms from 2008 to 2015, but future students who would have benefited from badly needed changes to the education system that could improve graduation rates. That’s inexcusable.

While details are sketchy as to which school districts reported faulty graduation rates, Sentance has pledged the department will go into schools involved and correct their calculations.

He came on board as superintendent only in September and is somewhat of a novice at running a large education system. The graduation rate fiasco will make it harder for him to re-establish public trust in Alabama schools.

Investigations into the MPS grading issues, which led to the suspension of seven educators, found that the culture at ALSDE actually encouraged improper grade changes.

Why weren’t comprehensive internal quality controls of all grading and diploma-granting mechanisms established then to ensure the department was receiving correct data?

It’s failure to do so abetted the incorrect reporting of the graduation rates, which no doubt benefited the Alabama State Board of Education, then-Superintendent Tommy Bice, and other education officials in the state, whose leadership appeared to be making a difference to struggling schools.

But the losers were Alabama’s students. Not only the students in classrooms from 2008 to 2015, but future students who would have benefited from badly needed changes to the education system that could improve graduation rates. That’s inexcusable.

While details are sketchy as to which school districts reported faulty graduation rates, Sentance has pledged the department will go into schools involved and correct their calculations.

He came on board as superintendent only in September and is somewhat of a novice at running a large education system. The graduation rate fiasco will make it harder for him to re-establish public trust in Alabama schools.

Online:

https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com

___

Dec. 21

The Opelika-Auburn News on a worker’s death at an auto parts supplier in Alabama:

Wedding Day was getting close for 20-year-old Regina Allen Elsea.

Just two weeks away.

The happiness of a bride and that for her loved ones planning a June wedding instantly turned instead to heartbreaking sorrow when Regina Allen Elsea was crushed to death.

Now her employer and two Opelika staffing agencies face 23 citations and $2.5 million in fines for not taking the proper action that could have saved Elsea’s life. The fines are but one measure meant to bring attention to workplace safety and ways of preventing such needless tragedy from occurring again.

It’s impossible, however, to put a monetary value on the price of a life.

The young woman from Five Points did not have to die that day when she and three co-workers at a major auto parts supplier entered a robotic station to clear a sensor fault.

The machine abruptly restarted, killing her.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued the citations against Ajin USA, Alliance Total Solutions LLC and Joynus Staffing Corp. with fines totaling more than $2.5 million.

Proper and plentiful training and awareness programs are critical to any safety goals and especially for a work environment where dangers exist.

The accident and resulting fines in this case should serve as a potent reminder to not only these companies involved, but to any employer.

Preventing injuries and deaths should always be job No. 1.

Online:

https://www.oanow.com

___

Dec. 19

The (Fort Payne) Times-Journal on troopers on Alabama roadways during holidays:

The holiday is a busy time for all of us, including law enforcement officers.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency announced Friday that they would increase the amount of Troopers on Alabama roadways through Christmas and into the New Year.

Nobody likes to be pulled over. It slows us down. It’s cold and uncomfortable outside. And, of course, we run the risk of an officer writing us a ticket.

I don’t know if you’ve been written a ticket recently, but that’s a chunk of change not too many people can just easily pay - especially during the present-buying season.

It can put a damper on your Christmas spirit, but that’s not the reason why state troopers are out in full force this holiday.

According to the ALEA, Troopers investigated 14 different traffic deaths during the Thanksgiving travel period. Yes, you heard that right. Fourteen people passed because of a travel-related accident, and one of those was a 12-year-old.

Last year, during the holiday travel period, Troopers investigated 26 traffic deaths.

So, these men and women are out patrolling so that they can play a small part in preventing a tragedy from occurring this holiday.

We ask that you be careful when traveling. Obviously, don’t operate a vehicle if you’re under the influence of alcohol or drugs - that should go without saying. But, in addition to that, make sure to buckle up and avoid texting and driving. (We promise you, that text can wait until you get to a safe location.)

Troopers will heighten patrol and enforcement for a 17-day period, from 12:01 Friday until Jan. 1, 2017.

Also, it’s important to remember that they are away from their families this Christmas, as well. Let’s make sure that they have a Merry Christmas too, and let’s limit the amount of work they have to do.

We hope you enjoy your holiday parties, but please do so safely.

Online:

https://www.times-journal.com

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Manage Newsletters

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide