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EDITORIAL

More federal intervention not answer for schools

Friday, September 13, 2013 - 12:01 am

Apparently the absence of some useless federal regulations makes some hearts grow fonder of them.

No one should lament the demise of “No Child Left Behind,” the decade-old federal school improvement law, however.

Although Congress has not removed it from the books, NCLB no longer governs schools in many states, including Indiana. A process of granting them waivers from most of the law's provisions accomplished that.

Now, however, some advocates for minority students say waiver states are using their newfound freedom from NCLB to cut back on initiatives meant to help “at-risk” children. Individual schools and their districts no longer are under as much pressure to help such students, the advocates claim. Fewer schools are being identified as in need of drastic improvement, they add.

That will come as news in some states that have been granted waivers. In some, new quality evaluation systems are, if anything, identifying more schools that are not serving at-risk children adequately.

Ongoing pressure from the public will be vital in ensuring at-risk students — of all races — get the help they need. A new round of federal intervention is not the answer.

Rip-off artist

Federal prosecutors say that for 12 years, Environmental Protection Agency official John C. Beale got away with ripping off taxpayers.

He collected nearly $900,000 in salary — and performance bonuses — to which he was not entitled.

Beale, who had been a senior policy adviser in the Office of Air and Radiation, was absent from his job frequently. He told co-workers he was engaged in “top-secret” tasks for another government agency.

He wasn't. But for 12 years, no one checked up on him. Again, his superiors even gave him performance bonuses.

Perhaps EPA officials should pay as much attention to cleaning up their bureaucracy as to killing jobs through draconian pollution regulations.

'Stimulus' wasn't

President Obama likes to boast that trillions of dollars in “stimulus” spending of various types has put more Americans back to work.

It has not. Unemployment rates are down slightly only because fewer people are looking for work. The civilian labor force participation rate — the percentage of people 16 and older in the work force who have jobs or are looking for them — is at its lowest rate since mid-1978. Fewer than two-thirds of Americans in the work force are on payrolls or seeking jobs.

In November 2008, when Obama was elected president largely on the strength of promises to provide more jobs, 144.1 million Americans were working, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Last month, total employment was just 70,000 higher, also according to the BLS.

In other words, the economy has been treading water for the past five years — but you wouldn't know that from listening to Obama.