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Column: Opinion roundup

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EDITOR’S NOTE—Today, the Daily Journal presents a sampling of editorials from around the state.

Grading system doesn’t benefit schools

The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne

Give the Indiana Department of Education a big fat F on its accountability report card. The shape-shifting measure might have satisfied a handful of school officials and politicians embarrassed by their suburban high schools’ 2011 grades, but it doesn’t come close to satisfying the provisions of the state law that created it.

Don’t take our word for it — here’s what the superintendent of a Grade-A school district had to say:

“I do not understand this system, and I live in this world each day,” writes Chris Himsel, superintendent of Northwest Allen County Schools. “I will need to explain it to parents and media members, and I do not know how I will accomplish it since I do not understand it myself.”

Yet transparency was the goal when the law requiring the ratings was passed, Himsel noted in his letter. Legislation directed the Department of Education to compare students, schools and school districts with their own prior year’s performance. Instead, the state set up a system that compares them to other students, schools and districts.

That leaves a school such as Northwest Allen’s Arcola Elementary dropping from an A to a D this year. In an interview, Himsel said the school would have earned a B if just one more third-grader had passed the ISTEP+ exam.

The original legislation directed this: “These scores will not be set or skewed for the reason to cause more or fewer students to pass or more or fewer schools to rise or fall in category placement.”

But the scores look suspiciously as if they were skewed. Several high-performing suburban high schools were tagged with Cs last year: Homestead, Hamilton Southeastern, Plainfield, Noblesville, Brownsburg, Center Grove and Penn. This year, each earned an A.

Labeling schools and districts with grades might be an easy way for legislators to justify their policy decisions. But a grading scale continually shifting serves no one well. For consistency and transparency, give the 2012 report card an F.

Finally able to move away from election news

(Lafayette) Journal and Courier

The dust might not have settled, but the voting is over.

And soon enough we’re going to need to reach back for the rules of youth sports and all else that is meant to be fair, shake hands and move ahead.

Gracious in defeat. Humble in victory. And understanding that there’s big work to do no matter how well the results fell in your favor.

This election year has been spent dwelling on the art of compromise — and how to not compromise. We’ve heard candidates play the angles about how to impose principles on the other side without room to listen.

At this point, provided someone doesn’t announce their bid for the next election, it’s time to step back from the commercials, the wedge topics and the mailers, and figure out that there’s middle ground out there. Somewhere.

OK, maybe not just yet this morning. But soon enough.

Citizenship full-time job, not just on Election Day

(Bedford) Times-Mail

Like all elections, this one will come and go.

America’s problems cannot be remedied by an election, regardless of the results.

Four years ago Barack Obama promised to steer us down a new avenue. Now Mitt Romney was pledging change. Both men appear sincere in their quests to set our nation on a more prosperous path.

Ah, but here’s the rub. Change does not always equate with progress.

Yet change, at least in some form, is inevitable, and it requires movement. And movement, most often, generates friction.

Friction, though unsettling, is essential to our form of government. As Hubert Humphrey so eloquently noted, “Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent and debate.”

A citizen’s participation in the political process does not end on Election Day. It behooves us all to continue to engage and question our leaders, to express our views and concerns to elected officials.

Never hesitate to remind these individuals they were elected to represent our interests, not theirs.

Settling for change is not sufficient. We must continue to demand progress. Be vigilant. Ask questions. Stay informed. Citizenship is a full-time job.

It’s time to get synthetic drugs off the shelves

KPC News

Incidents recently in Indianapolis have refocused attention on the threat of synthetic drugs.

A 17-year-old girl from Indianapolis recently needed hospital care after using synthetic drugs she reportedly bought from a gas station.

In response, state Sen. Jim Merritt, R-Indianapolis, has called a meeting to plan strategies for eliminating synthetic drugs from the market. Merritt has invited the Indiana State Police, federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the state attorney general’s office, Indiana Sheriff’s Association and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorney’s Council to gather this week.

Last year, Indiana legislators outlawed the ingredients in widely sold synthetic drugs such as Spice and K2.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller and Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry recently said they’re joining forces to get synthetic drugs off store shelves.

They made good on their promise when police arrested the owner of the Smoke Shop chain of stores in Indianapolis. Curry’s office filed 18 felony charges under the “look-alike” and synthetic drug laws.

A news report said police working undercover made six separate purchases of synthetic drugs from three separate Smoke Shop locations. Investigators seized more than 1,000 individual packages of alleged synthetic drugs in the operation.

“Individuals who are purchasing these items and taking them have no idea what they are putting into their bodies,” Curry said.

That’s why selling K2 and Spice to teens is reprehensible. We support law enforcement officials using every tool at their disposal to crack down on people who are endangering young Hoosiers for profit.

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