Report shows us on right track
If Indiana education officials needed any encouragement to stay on the reform course embarked upon under Gov. Mitch Daniels and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett, they just got it in a big way from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress, more commonly referred to as the Nation’s Report Card.
The data shows that Hoosier fourth- and eighth-grade students demonstrated the second-largest improvement rate among all states last year on standardized math and reading tests. Indiana fourth-graders ranked fourth in the nation in average math scores. And 52 percent test of our fourth-graders tested at or above proficient in math, compared to the national average of 42 percent.
New issue in the debate
Even as a stand-alone issue, whether to put the gay marriage ban into the state constitution instead of just leaving it in the Indiana code is a complicated question requiring Hoosiers to decide how ethical and moral sensibilities can be addressed by the legal system. But there are subsidiary issues that further complicate the matter, some known and some not.
One of the known ones is highlighted in a high-profile custody battle from Elkhart: What about the children?
Nicole Jasinski and Amber Carpenter were united in a civil ceremony. Jasinski became pregnant with donor sperm, and the two women and boy (now 5) lived together as a family. The couple split and Jasinski took full custody. Carpenter sued, asking for joint custody and visitation rights. A court said no.
Fewer cases to high court
A lot of people are trying to decide whether it’s good news or bad news that a declining number of cases are being made to the Indiana Supreme Court and that the court is deciding fewer cases from among them.
The court’s annual report released this month shows it issued just 78 rulings on the 868 cases that made it to the high court. That’s down from 90 opinions issued on 963 cases the year before and 122 opinions on 979 cases a decade ago.
A pessimistic view of the decline would hold that either there is a clog somewhere in the system slowing it down or that the justices and perhaps others in the system farther down the line are just getting too comfortable with a slow and undemanding pace.
We choose a more optimistic view.
It's time to let ethanol go
Let the debate now rage over how much environmental damage ethanol is creating.
The Associated Press, after an extensive investigation, reports that farmers rushing to find new places to grow corn have wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitats and polluted water supplies. Farmers planted 15 million more acres of corn last year than they did the year before ethanol. That includes 750,000 more acres in Indiana.
Ethanol producers and corn farmers, in a strong pushback, say conservation land is being lost mostly because of congressional action and urbanization and other land uses. Furthermore, farmers are improving the ways in which they treat the land with environmental sensitivity.
But it should be conceded that some damage is caused.
Taking power from Washington
Recent polls show a majority of Americans think the federal government is too big and tries to do too much. Growing disgust at the botched rollout of Obamacare and the nasty little surprises in the program will only increase the number of cynical Americans receptive to the idea of taming the Washington behemoth.
Seems like a good time for a revolution, one made possible by Article 5 of the Constitution, which authorizes a constitutional convention for proposing amendments if called for by the legislatures of two-thirds of the states. Any such proposals “shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths” of the states. The federal government surely will not willingly give up power, so it’s time for us to take it.