Well past time to overhaul the education system
Educational bureaucracies at state levels were bad enough. Then, the federal government became involved in a big way. For years we have had elective and administrative government at both levels in league with a heavily unionized labor force. Result? The product — the education of our youth — has declined in quality, and its cost has increased faster than inflation.
Tweaking this grossly inefficient, inept, top-down bureaucracy won't produce world-class education. It will only produce another program, like the Kentucky Education Reform Act, that professional educators, academics and politicians will herald as the next solution.
A decade later we will be sold another top-down solution.
It's time to ditch the failed, one-size-fits-all collectivist approach and return to the approaches our country was founded upon — competition, freedom to innovate — by giving educational vouchers.
Let public, private and parochial schools compete for the education dollar. Quality will rise, costs will decline, good teachers will see their incomes increase, and poor teachers will leave the profession.
Most public schools will survive because the teachers' and administrators' job security will be threatened, and they will rise to the challenges. The outcome? In 20 years, the United States will again become a world leader in education.
The only way an entrenched bureaucracy can be significantly improved is to threaten its very existence. Tweaking is fruitless.
Bullying must stop
Bullying is not something that every child must endure. It's not a rite of passage, nor certainly something that will better prepare children for the future.
I was a victim of extreme bullying during my junior high school years. I was beaten (on one occasion, unconscious) at least once weekly, and my pleas for help went unheard.
I once did something that, in retrospect, still haunts me; I took a gun to school. On this particular day, no one confronted me. I took it on that occasion only, but on that day I was prepared to use it.
Later that summer I tried to commit suicide. I was only 14, and had no real concept of just how brief 14 years really was, but I just couldn't grasp the reality of another year like the previous one.
I got help in a residential adolescent treatment center, and eventually we moved out of the school district, I withdrew from school altogether, obtained my GED and went on to start college
Life indeed improved for me, but only by the grace of God did I not ruin my life or subsequently end it in my time of desperation. Legislation should indeed be passed making bullying a punishable crime for the sake of everyone involved.
Let your children know that bullying is something cruel and not in character of a good person. It scars, and in extreme cases leads to suicide, or equally as devastating, school violence.
Limit EPA, as Paul says
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul has introduced legislation that will prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from awarding grants to projects outside of the United States under the Clean Air Act.
Paul said, "At a time when our nation faces an exorbitant and ever-increasing national debt, we must rein in spending and make every taxpayer dollar wisely spent. Sending tens of millions of dollars overseas in grant allocations under the Clean Air Act is irresponsible and another instance of an out-of-control EPA. My legislation removes EPA authority to continue to send our taxpayer dollars overseas, while reinstating more accountability here at home."
Under the Clean Air Act, the EPA has the authority to issue grants to programs and projects around the world. Some examples of projects the EPA has supported:
■ $141,450 to China to "quantify the environmental impacts from different biogas digesters used to treat swine manures in China."
■ $150,000 for clean cooking technology in Kenya, and
■ $180,000 to train Polish municipalities on landfill gas.
Additionally, Paul's bill will prevent grant applicants in the United States from sub-granting awards from the EPA to activities outside of the United States. We owe Paul a big thank you for his efforts.
Abortion vs. privacy
Just like conservatives, I agree that the most desirable outcome of any pregnancy is for the mother to love her child and herself enough to give birth and care for her child in a loving home environment.
In fact, this is probably the most basic protective emotion most of us have when we think about having children.
I agree with my conservative friends about our right to publicly promote alternatives to abortion. Such alternatives benefit the unborn child and could, ultimately, benefit the mother ... but, not necessarily.
This is where it gets difficult and individualized. When is forcing a woman to give birth against her will a good idea and when might it be potentially harmful to her, her child, or both? This is not a trivial issue to be decided amid a barrage of political talking points.
None of us, outside any pregnant woman's network of family and medical advisers, is knowledgeable or competent enough to make the decision for or against legal abortion for that woman.
How a woman's life and family relationships change because of pregnancy is among the most intimate of all issues.
What Roe v. Wade concludes is that our Constitution guarantees that a woman has the personal right to decide, in private, for or against an abortion during the first two trimesters of a pregnancy. That means that the decision to have a legal abortion is, basically, no one else's business.
Joseph P. Fox
Members of Congress are working on the reauthorization of the farm bill, which includes funding for SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), formerly known as food stamps, and the SNAP Education program.
Nearly half of all participants are children, and one in five children in this country is at risk of hunger this year. Yet, some in Congress are proposing drastic cuts that leave many more children and families even more vulnerable to hunger in this time of economic hardship.
Cuts to SNAP and SNAP-Ed will burden those kids with long-term consequences to their health, education and economic futures.
We need to ensure our kids are set up to succeed by asking our members of Congress to protect funding for these poverty-fighting programs and standing up for children who do not have a voice in Washington. Let us remind Congress, this program is the only source of food for numerous, poverty-stricken families all over the United States.
Let us not limit the potential of our children by denying them the nutrition they need. Remember, they are the leaders of tomorrow.
I would like to see the SNAP program kept because of all of the kids who would go hungry if not. Also, keeping the farm bill would help the SNAP Education program, which provides free lunches and breakfasts for kids who would not normally get them.