- Associated Press - Thursday, August 16, 2018

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:


Aug. 11

Dothan Eagle on scandal-plagued former elected officials:

Alabama has hardly recovered from the embarrassment brought on by the scandals surrounding the heads of its three branches of government.

The head of the legislative branch, former House Speaker Mike Hubbard, continued to serve under indictment on corruption charges for which he was eventually convicted.

The head of the judicial branch, former Chief Justice Roy Moore, was effectively removed from office - a second time - after he was suspended for the remainder of his term for directing probate judges to ignore a federal court order on same-sex marriage.

The head of the executive branch, former Gov. Robert Bentley, resigned in disgrace on the day a legislative impeachment process began, pleading guilty to some misdemeanor ethics counts related to a scandal surrounding a relationship with a staffer.

Nothing much has been heard from Hubbard. He’s out on bail two years after his trial, waiting on his appeals to determine whether he’ll serve time in prison for 12 ethics convictions. He has every reason to keep his head down.

Bentley and Moore, however, seem to be bent on a comeback.

Moore saw his political career revived after his first removal from the office of chief justice for defying a federal court order to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building lobby. Following his second failed term, he mounted a campaign and won the Republican bid for U.S. Senate, but was such an unpalatable candidate that a Democrat, Doug Jones, defeated him in this deeply red state. He keeps popping up, holding press conferences and filing lawsuits related to his Senate run.

Now Bentley seems to be setting the stage for a comeback. Following his resignation, he returned to Tuscaloosa to resume his dermatology practice, quietly hiring Rebekah Caldwell Mason, the staffer with whom he was romantically linked in the governor’s office. In recent weeks, he’s launched a social media initiative, “Bentley for Alabama,” which he says is meant to promote the good work done while he was in office.

Such efforts may serve Bentley and Moore, but they don’t serve the people of Alabama. It’s well past time that Alabama voters send a message to scandal-plagued politicians that they deserve honest government, and make every effort to support political hopefuls who can promise to deliver.

Bentley, Moore, Hubbard, and their ilk have had their chances and blown them. They should cut their losses and go quietly away.

Online: https://www.dothaneagle.com/


Aug. 8

The Cullman Times advocates for training opportunities in the Alabama:

The nation’s unemployment rate has plummeted to 3.9 percent, marking a five-d ecade low and representing a new challenge for companies.

With many businesses continuing to grow in the robust economic environment, finding employees who are trained or trainable is the hottest topic on the job market. Some businesses are adding more hours for part-timers and converting contractors to full-time employees.

Economic indicators are also showing that consumers are spending more while many companies are investing to improve facilities and equipment.

The acceleration of economic growth points to a growing advantage for workers. States like Alabama, which has enjoyed one of its best economic runs in years, thanks largely to the automotive industry, are scurrying to step up job training efforts through the education system. The fact is clear that if a person will graduate high school and at least gain a skill at a community college, plenty of work is available.

Hiring executives are becoming frustrated, too, with employees leaping quickly to other jobs because of competitive pay incentives.

Companies that expect to remain competitive and well staffed will have to continue to improve pay and benefits in this economic era.

What a great problem. American workers are enjoying some flexibility while companies are growing and realizing increased profits.

For Alabama, and similar states, the emphasis on education has never been more important. Continuing to improve classroom experiences and providing more technical training will inspire students to work harder toward their degrees for the real promise of lucrative employment.

Looking forward, Alabama has many opportunities to grow. That growth doesn’t have to be just a few areas of the state. With better education and incentives to improve the opportunities for the entire state, growth will be more sustainable in the future. Workforce development is now the priority for keeping the economy moving.

We encourage Alabama’s leaders to implement more training opportunities throughout the state. Reaping more benefits from the current economic environment is a matter of being prepared with a top work force.

Online: http://www.cullmantimes.com/


Aug. 12

The Gadsden Times on starting school at a later date:

Rep. Craig Ford, I-Gadsden, thinks school starts too early for Alabama’s children. Should he return to the Legislature next year - he’s got a date with the voters on Nov. 6 as a candidate for the state Senate - he says he’ll try again to do something about it.

Ford says he’ll reintroduce legislation that died in committee this year barring schools from going back into session earlier than two weeks before Labor Day. That would be Aug. 20 by the present calendar.

Only one Alabama school system starts that late this year. Athens City students go back on Aug. 30, and that’s only because the system wants to begin the year in the new Athens High School building that’s getting its finishing touches.

All other systems would be affected by Ford’s legislation. …

Most systems are done by Memorial Day or thereabouts, meaning students and teachers get essentially two full months and some change off for the summer.

Ford contends that “hurts Alabama families” by forcing them to miss “important, quality vacation time together.” He says kids are missing out on play time and camp time, older kids are missing out on a chance to work part-time jobs and teachers are limited in the time they can devote to professional development or academic advancement.

In the past - Ford has touted this for a while - he’s noted the cost savings systems could see from not having to turn on the air conditioning at campuses or run it at full tilt for a few weeks. Others who support a later start time for schools say it will benefit the state’s tourism industry, particularly on the Gulf Coast.

A bill requiring what Ford seeks was passed by the Legislature in 2012, but wasn’t renewed in 2015. It gave local systems the flexibility to set their calendars within the prescribed parameters, but schools immediately went back to early starting times once it expired. They contend it’s the best way to meet the state mandate of 180 days of instruction or the hourly equivalent of 1,080 hours annually.

Ford says he favors maintaining instructional requirements, but the bill he introduced last year called for changing the 180 days to a flat 1,050 hours. That’s a cut, and given the fact that, according to a report this year from the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, 29 percent of the state’s students don’t leave school “college and career ready” to compete in today’s globally interconnected and technology rich environment, we have a problem with reducing instructional hours for any reasons.

You might think that’s a heavy burden to put on kids, who are increasingly having to scramble for time to be kids, but it’s the reality of our present world and it’s only going to get worse. Times have changed.

That being the case, we certainly want families to have opportunities for quality time. So have they always waited until August to do so? Have kids always waited until August to go to camp or get jobs?

There can’t be any change in the start of high school football season since teams play 15 games now and need to get done before Christmas. Summer break will effectively end for players, cheerleaders and band members in late July, as always, even if classes start later. Advanced Placement students still will have summer projects to work on.

Also, what school systems turn the air conditioning off or down very much at any point during the summer? The humidity would ruin everything.

The old 12-week summer breaks had zero to do with giving kids time to play or families time to go to the beach. They were a product of Alabama’s agrarian days when kids were needed to help on family farms. The tradition and expectation has remained in place even though that need isn’t as prevalent anymore.

The current school calendars give students extended breaks at Thanksgiving and Christmas. It certainly would be easy to take those away to help start the year later. But has anybody asked the folks who like to vacation when it’s cooler and don’t like the beach - there are some, strange as it might seem in this sun- and water-worshiping state - what they think about the prospect?

A 2017 study by the Brookings Institute found that students’ achievement scores decline by the equivalent of a month’s classroom instruction over summer vacation. It’s why many systems across the country have gone to year-round school. (The notion produces shrieks from people who immediately assume it means kids being stuck in class for 52 weeks; there generally are breaks of three weeks or so each quarter and, yes, an extended break in the summer.

Ford favors instituting summer reading, math and science programs to help there, but it’s not the same, and who’s going to administer and fund those programs?

We’re certainly not anti-vacation or anti-fun, but there should be only one consideration here: Does this further the education of Alabama’s schoolchildren, and their preparation to be functioning, contributing members of society after they leave school? All other considerations are secondary if not irrelevant, and if that question can’t be answered “yes,” this doesn’t need to happen.

Online: http://www.gadsdentimes.com/

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