- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 15, 2020

The (Anderson) Herald Bulletin. September 9, 2020

State’s color-coded system is valuable resource

Indiana’s color-coding system of recommendations for school operations is another valuable resource in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, and educators would do well to make good use of this resource.

The site went live last week and tracks recommendations for potential school closures during the coronavirus pandemic.

The system assigns each county a color-coded rating based on the number of novel coronavirus cases and the risk of spreading the virus. Colors range from blue, meaning that school operations may proceed as normal (with social distancing in place) to red, meaning that all education should be remote.



The new system provides only recommendations, not mandates, meaning schools are not obligated to follow them. Districts aren’t required to test students, faculty or staff, and there are no penalties for schools that don’t comply with the state’s recommendations.

Recommendations are generally preferable to mandates, but we urge educators and school administrators to take state recommendations seriously.

In-person education is important to children, but schools are also charged with the safety and well-being of children. Remote learning should remain in place as an option.

Parents, teachers and government officials ought to continue to work together for plans that account for a rich and thorough education along with a genuine concern for the health and welfare of students.

This is yet another example of adapting to the new normal.

The state’s color-coded system provides a simple resource that has the potential to save lives while helping educators provide a robust educational experience.

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South Bend Tribune. September 7, 2020

Good news on voting rights

For Hoosiers concerned about exercising their constitutional rights safely in the midst of a pandemic, there hasn’t been a lot of good news about voting.

They have a governor who refuses to make mail-in voting available to all, who talks about in-person voting with nostalgia while the coronavirus shows no sign of letting up.

Meanwhile, the president charges - without evidence - that mail-in voting leads to massive fraud.

Add to that the uproar over the cost-cutting measures implemented by the U.S. Postal Service that have been faulted for slowing mail delivery and criticized as an effort to disenfranchise mail-in voters.

All of these challenges remain, but last week brought a victory. On Thursday, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana blocked the state of Indiana from purging voters from registration lists without certain federal safeguards in place to prevent eligible voters from being improperly removed.

The court issued a permanent injunction, prohibiting the state from implementing a law that would have allowed the state to remove any Indiana registrant from the list of eligible voters who has changed address without contacting that person directly and without providing the notice and observing the waiting period required by the National Voter Registration Act.

The American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Indiana, Democrats and the firm Davis Wright Tremaine challenged the law. The case was brought on behalf of Common Cause Indiana.

Previously in this case, federal courts had struck down a virtually identical law that relied on data from the controversial Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck program. Instead of fixing the problems, Indiana enacted a new law that duplicated the same flawed procedures.

One of the authors of the original law, state Sen. Greg Walker, told the Indianapolis Star in 2017 that he felt certain the legislation was “a reasonable and effective way to keep accurate voter roll information.”

As we noted in a September 2017 comment, any law that complicates or creates obstacles to your right to vote is neither “reasonable” nor “effective.” And whatever the stated intentions of lawmakers who support such measures, it’s disenfranchisement.

“If allowed to stand, this law would have led to the disenfranchisement of eligible voters, especially voters of color,” said Barbara Bolling-Williams, president of the Indiana State Conference of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). “Today’s ruling is a win for democracy and racial justice in the state of Indiana.”

Another win for Hoosier voters, expanded absentee voting for the November election, has been rejected by the governor. But voting rights advocates can celebrate this decision.

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(Terre Haute) Tribune-Star. September 9, 2020

Fight for gender equality goes on

There’s a movement spreading across the country this year. One which recognizes a monumental event. It’s not about race, the election, or the coronavirus and the economy. It’s about gender.

And it’s every bit as important as the others.

The fight for women’s suffrage was won, on a national level, 100 years ago this August. Women gained the right to vote after the 19th Amendment was ratified on Aug. 18, 1919, and certified by U.S. Secretary of State Bainbridge Colby on Aug. 26 of that year.

This accomplishment stands as one of the most notable national victories in regard to gender equality in the past century.

Since January, organizations, local, state and national, have been celebrating this 100-year anniversary. Included in the effort to raise awareness of women’s fight for the vote is Women’s Equality Day, observed every year on Aug. 26.

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On that day last month, a statue depicting women’s rights pioneers was unveiled in New York’s Central Park, becoming the first monument in the park to honor historical heroines as opposed to fictional female characters.

“This is a collection of statues of great men who accomplished great things, and the fact that there were no statues of women seemed to mean that the accomplishments of women were meaningless, certainly not worthy of a statue,” sculptor Meredith Bergmann said. “So it’s long overdue, and it’s wonderful that these three great and inspiring and incredibly hardworking activist women are here in Central Park and they can inspire us to continue to fight for equal rights, for fairness and for justice for women, for minority groups, for people of color, for everyone now.”

Earlier in August (Aug. 18), President Donald Trump officially pardoned leading suffragist Susan B. Anthony. Anthony was arrested in 1872 for voting before it was legal for women to do so. Political backlash erupted and the National Susan B. Anthony Museum declined the offer of a pardon from the president.

The best way to honor Anthony would be a clear stance on voter suppression, support for the Equal Rights Amendment, and advocacy for human rights for all, museum president Deborah L. Hughes declared in a statement.

Also on Aug. 26, the League of Women Voters of Vigo County hosted a virtual march on Facebook celebrating Women’s Equality Day. The league is a voice for women’s equality, but its main goal continues to be extending and supporting the fight for voter equality.

In a story by Tribune-Star reporter Alex Modesitt, Carly Schmitt, the league’s current president, said the organization’s efforts moving forward must include stripping away barriers to voting in this upcoming and all future elections. Schmitt said the League of Women Voters is taking “a firm stand on voting being extended to all citizens, particularly when it comes to vote by mail.

“This issue is something that I think the women who came before us would be quite proud of,” Schmitt said. “And as we look forward to the next 100 years, I have considered what the women who came before us would want us to do.”

No doubt women of all generations have been inspired by those early suffragists.

From women of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s who broadened the debate on women’s rights by questioning perceptions of a woman’s place in the domestic world, inequities in the workplace, in politics and in sexuality and reproductive rights, to the women of the late 20th and early 21st centuries who continue those fights with even more specific agendas on equal pay, violence against women, movements such as #MeToo and by making greater advances in the political realm.

As we head toward the end of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic is laying bare even more inequities as women struggle to continue working full-time jobs while they serve as teachers to their children, juggling just one more duty with no extra pay and fewer resources for child care.

Indeed, we owe these suffragists much as we continue the fight for gender equality. It’s our hope that one day, the daughters of our children’s children can look back and see a country where women are not discriminated against on the basis of sex in any realm of their lives.

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