Editorials from around Pennsylvania:
PENN STATE COULD LOWER TUITION IF THE STATE INCREASES HIGHER ED FUNDING, March 22
Penn State President Eric Barron had hardly taken his seat in front of PennLive’s Editorial Board before he started extolling the benefits of Penn State and citing a flurry of statistics to back it up.
Statistic number one - Penn State educates almost 100,000 students each year, and many more are banging at the door to get in. In nurturing these young people to become the next CEOs, entrepreneurs and political leaders, the university sends more than $3.6 billion directly into the state’s economy.
Barron had plenty other stats worth talking about, as well.
Penn State’s 24 campuses employ more than 50,000 people
Penn State helps to sustain more than 100,000 jobs throughout the state
Penn State’s students feed their local economies to the tune of billions of dollars each year
For every $1 in state financial support Penn State receives, it returns $1.24 in tax payments to the state
There’s plenty more of those kinds of numbers in the recent study Penn State conducted to assess its economic impact on the state and to convince lawmakers it’s high time to recommit to supporting the institution and its students.
The statistics show significant economic benefits Penn State provides to the state, and they are reason enough to make a president proud. But there’s another statistic Barron was not so proud to point out - the amount of money Pennsylvania’s government contributes to Penn State to keep it functioning as one of the premiere institutions of higher learning in the nation.
That number is not only embarrassing, it’s alarming.
Pennsylvania ranks 48th out of the 50 states in public support-per-student for general education purposes. Only New Hampshire and little Vermont rank lower.
According to Barron, the state’s contribution to Penn State education hasn’t really increased in more than two decades, despite Gov. Tom Wolf’s heralded focus on education as a priority of his administration.
What this all means is Penn State students pay higher tuition rates than their peers at public universities around the country. And that’s nothing to brag about.
“We could drop tuition by over 15 percent,” Barron said, if the state’s allocation for higher ed had just kept pace with inflation. “It is not something to be proud of,” he said, “to be funding higher education institutions at the rate of 20 years ago.”
Because of the low level of state support for higher education, Pennsylvania’s public colleges and universities are among the most expensive in the nation. In fact, four of the top 10 public universities with the highest tuitions for in-state students are right here in Pennsylvania.
The reason is clear. They have to rely on tuition to make up for the lack of state subsidies.
So, while Barron agrees student debt fueled by high tuition is one of the most pressing issues of our day, he is notably reticent to talk about holding the line on tuition increases or, God forbid, lowering it.
It’s clear that won’t happen until state lawmakers and the Wolf administration put some money behind their public declarations on the importance of education and their sympathy for debt-laden graduates. It’s the message Barron and his contingent of students brought to the State Capitol last week in their efforts to garner more state support.
Penn State is asking for $19.6 million more for next year, but so far, Gov. Wolf has not signaled increases for any state-related university in his upcoming budget, no matter what statistics their presidents cite.
Considering the return on investment President Barron so thoroughly detailed, it would seem a no-brainer for the state to reconsider its level of support for Penn State and the other state-related institutions.
We strongly urge them to do so.
MUELLER, ROSFELD AND WHAT JUSTICE LOOKS LIKE, March 25
We have a Hollywood fairy-tale idea of justice. It’s something that makes the hurt go away and heals rifts. Maybe sometimes that’s true. It would be nice if it was. But justice doesn’t always look like that.
In Pittsburgh, a significant number of people look at the Michael Rosfeld verdict Friday and don’t see justice. They see a dead black boy and a free white cop and feel an inequity that can’t be expressed. A trial is supposed to deliver justice. How can it leave the mother of a dead child feeling stricken again?
In Washington, two years of investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller culminated Friday with the delivery of his report on allegations of collusion and obstruction of justice by President Trump. On Sunday, Attorney General William Barr released his summary of the report: no collusion, no charges.
While Pittsburgh dealt with protests over the Rosfeld verdict, Washington and cable news shows chewed on the end of the Mueller probe. How could there be no charges? No indictments? But so many other people were charged or pleaded guilty or were found guilty. There has to be more!
But sometimes there isn’t.
Sometimes we have to acknowledge when the race is run, when the fight is fought, when the bell has rung. In both Rosfeld’s trial and Mueller’s investigation, there was a process that had to be followed. There were actions taken to try and establish whether someone had responsibility and whether there would be consequences.
Without a doubt, there were people on both sides of the issues. For every person who mourned Rose, there was someone defending Rosfeld or imagining their police officer husband or brother or son in his position. For everyone demanding answers about Russian interference in the election, there was someone adamant that Trump was not involved.
And that is every trial, every investigation. Whenever there are two sides, there is no answer that will bring us all together. The scales of justice tip based on the weight of the evidence or the opinion of the jury, but they seldom balance in a way that makes both sides say “Yes, that is fair.” Because some things will never feel fair.
Sometimes justice doesn’t look like the answer someone wants. Sometimes justice is just the end of the road.
NFL SHOULD FOLLOW BRUCE ARIANS’ LEAD WHEN IT COMES TO ITS TREATMENT OF WOMEN, March 26
The NFL’s relationship with its female fan base is checkered, at best.
When it comes to selling its product to our mothers, daughters and wives, the league is all in. It’s been estimated that women make up 45 percent of the overall NFL fan base. The league, obviously, works hard to appeal to its female fans. That’s because it helps the league’s bottom line, and the NFL is a bottom-line operation.
When it comes to punishing its players for violence committed against women and gender hiring . well those are completely different stories.
The league and its teams have consistently shown a disappointing reluctance to adequately punish its players for domestic abuse and other violence against women. That’s especially true if there is no video of the incident.
The general rule of thumb has been that teams will overlook practically any transgression if the player involved can still help a team win. Talent trumps character nearly every time.
When it comes to gender hiring, meanwhile, the league received a “C” grade from the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport in its most recent report.
Fortunately for the league, one man is doing his best to help the league improve that grade, and its reputation with its female fan base. His name is Bruce Arians and he grew up right here in York County.
Arians, as almost everyone is these parts knows, was a stellar high school athlete in the area who went on to a long and successful football coaching career in both the college and professional ranks.
He was recently hired as the head coach of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Shortly after he got the Bucs’ job, during a forum at the Super Bowl in Atlanta last month, he promised to hire a female assistant on his Tampa Bay staff.
He fulfilled that vow, and then some. Last week, Arians hired not one, but two female assistants.
Arians picked Lori Locust as an assistant defensive line coach and added Maral Javadifar as an assistant strength and conditioning coach. Not only did they become the first full-time female coaches in franchise history, but the Bucs are the first NFL team with two female coaches on staff.
Of course, helping women get a foothold in NFL coaching is nothing new for Arians. In 2015, when he was the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals, it was Arians who hired Jen Welter on an internship basis for training camp.
Arians is well known for his outside-the-box thinking when it comes to coaching.
It’s a profession that’s become famous (or infamous) over the years for head coaches who demand outrageous amounts of work time from assistants.
Arians, in contrast, has threatened to fire assistants who miss their children’s events in favor of work.
Actions such as those, and the fact that he’s generally regarded as candid, funny and charismatic, have earned the kangol-hat-wearing Arians a reputation as the “coolest” coach in the NFL.
There’s no doubt that Arians is “cool.” There’s also no doubt that he knows what he’s doing.
It’s why the 66 year old is still thriving in the coaching profession after more than four decades. He may be old enough to receive Social Security checks, but he’s definitely not a “get-off-my-lawn” senior-citizen caricature.
He’s obviously open to new ideas and more than willing to act as football trailblazer.
For that reason, the NFL would do well to follow Arians’ lead when it comes to its treatment of women.
MUNICIPAL POLICE NEED RADAR TO KEEP OUR COMMUNITIES SAFER, March 27
Pennsylvania is the only state that does not allow radar use by municipal police. It’s a ban that dates back nearly 60 years, LNP’s Tim Stuhldreher reported in the March 17 Sunday LNP. But there is new movement on this issue. The latest bill to allow municipal police to use radar was introduced earlier this month in Harrisburg, and its co-sponsors include state Sen. Ryan Aument of Landisville. “It would allow full-time municipal police officers to catch speeders using radar or lidar, its laser-based equivalent,” Stuhldreher wrote.
It’s long past time to give municipal police a crucial tool they need to make our streets and communities safer for vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.
Improving safety is something we should all be able to agree upon.
Lancaster City Council certainly does. It recently “added its voice to the chorus calling for the state to finally overturn its prohibition on radar use by local police,” Stuhldreher reported.
“It is beyond mind-boggling that we are still having this debate,” city police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser said.
We support the new bill that Aument is co-sponsoring. It would work this way, according to Stuhldreher:
- “Municipalities would first have to adopt an ordinance authorizing use of the devices and would have to post notifications on principal roads within 500 feet of their borders.”
- “Police departments would have to report their fine revenue annually. If fines exceed 5 percent of their budget or their municipality’s budget, they would have to turn over the excess to the state police.”
We believe that legislation is reasonable. There’s an understandable concern that some municipalities might try to turn speeding tickets into a revenue source, but the state Senate bill addresses that appropriately.
Lancaster City Council members “hear complaints constantly about dangerous speeding in residents’ neighborhoods,” Stuhldreher wrote. And the consequences can be devastating. Nationally, more than 25 percent of crash fatalities involve speeding and, Stuhldreher notes, “about 30 percent of speed-related fatal crashes occur on local roads, as opposed to state routes or interstates.”
That “local roads” part is crucial. Speeding isn’t just a highway concern. We need local radar enforcement to keep our local streets - so many of which pass by schools, places of worship and businesses - safer.
Non-fatality and non-injury crashes due to speeding can be bad, too. Suzy Hoover described to council a February crash on East King Street that took out a line of parked cars, causing many of her neighbors to temporarily lose their means of work transportation.
Hoover called speeding enforcement “vital for the city.”
We agree. It’s vital for Lancaster and all other county municipalities that desire the option of using radar for their communities.
Other groups supporting municipal radar use, Stuhldreher wrote, include “police unions and associations that advocate for local and county governments, such as the Pennsylvania Municipal League.”
Opponents say that speed limits are set too low; that radar readings can be compromised by human error; and that radar usage is more about raising money than making streets safer.
We disagree. The proposed bill in the state Senate addresses the revenue concern. And we firmly believe that no speed limit is “unreasonably low.” Slower driving keeps everyone safer; speed limits are established with that in mind. And radar is a necessary tool to enforce those limits.
“The sole reason” for radar enforcement, Berkihiser told Stuhldreher, “is for traffic safety and to slow people down.”
It’s time - long past time - to give this tool to municipalities.
We heartily applaud the 34 participants who competed in the 61st LNP/LancasterOnline Spelling Bee last Friday at Huesken Middle School in East Lampeter Township.
The local spellers had previously placed high in their school and district contests. Then, to qualify for the finals, the sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders were required to take a written test of 100 words.
At the championship, they tackled such words as troika, jeremiad, syndrome, vitriol, spinet, bezoar and cynosure.
We’re nervous just trying to type those correctly, let alone spell them out loud while standing on a stage. So hats off to the students for their hard work, amazing performances and composure.
Hempfield sixth-grader Sophie Zhang came out on top “after more than two hours and in nail-biting fashion,” LNP’s Junior Gonzalez reported.
The daughter of Xiaoguo Hu and Guofeng Zhang, of West Hempfield Township, Sophie captured the title of grand champion by correctly spelling “steerage” after 23 long rounds. She edged out Centerville Middle School student Riana Ramani at the end.
“It feels good. I did study hard, but I didn’t think I would win.” Sophie, who is 11, said afterward.
All of the participants must have studied hard, to get as far as they did. It was an outstanding effort that deserves our praise and respect.
Sophie advances to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which will be held in National Harbor, Maryland, in May.
We wish her good luck.
Or, perhaps we should say, phenomenal kismet.
PRESERVE PUBLIC SCHOOL LIBRARIES, March 26
Public and school libraries have been a distinguishing part of the national fabric since the founding. Widespread literacy and easy access to information are part of what separated America from its European forebears, converting uninformed subjects of monarchy into active citizens of a representative republic.
Now, school libraries are under assault as school boards eliminate them to save money, under the false premise that libraries have been rendered obsolete in the digital age. In the financially distressed Scranton School District, for example, the board has eliminated librarian positions, and clerks now check out materials.
Today, the Philadelphia School District, with 220 schools and 134,000 students, has just 10 staffed school libraries. Among 499 other school districts statewide, 131 have a librarian in every school but 115 have only one librarian for the district, and 22 have no librarians.
Older people often marvel at young people’s computer proficiency. But that is not the same thing as learning, which remains rooted in literacy, the ability to read and understand. In the digital age, harnessing technology to the underlying goals of literacy and learning is crucial to education, and it’s a task in which modern librarians play a major role.
Two state representatives, Republican Thomas Murt of Montgomery County and Democrat Mark Longietti of Mercer County, have proposed a bill to require a librarian in every public school. State Sen. John Blake, a Lackawanna County Democrat, has made the same proposal in the Senate.
The bills should pass, but not just as mandates to local districts. Legislators also should approve funding to help those local districts ensure that students have the age-old benefits, fine-tuned to the digital age, that only libraries can provide.
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