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EXCERPTS FROM EVENING FORUM EDITORIALS

This Week

Saturday, January 25, 2014 - 12:01 am

Going to school the whole year

Officially it’s called a “balanced school calendar,” but most non-educators know it as “year-round schooling.” It’s been catching on in Indiana, but a little more slowly in this area. Fort Wayne Community experimented with it in the 1990s. Imagine Schools on Broadway has tried it. DeKalb Central Schools is considering it for next year.

Under the “balanced calendar” approach, students get more breaks during the year and a shorter summer break – they really do attend all year. Under one configuration, recommended by the National Association for Year-Round Learning, there would be a 200-day school year (it’s only 180 days in Indiana now) broken into four 10-week instruction sessions. Each would be separated by a two-week break, and there would be a four-week summer break.

It’s an idea worthy of greater experimentation.

Monday

The why of the death penalty

Whether someone being executed goes softly and gently or in agony is not irrelevant. But it pales in comparison to the reality that he is being dispatched into eternity. One second, he is there. The next, he will be no more forever.

So we should not be callous or flip about the execution of Dennis McGuire in Ohio last week, which was accomplished with a new and untested drug combination and took 10 minutes while he struggled, made guttural noises, gasped for air and choked. Wishing pain on somebody isn’t exactly taking the moral high ground, and it’s not in keeping with the constitutional prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. That is true even if it is somebody who has himself inflicted great pain and suffering.

But the crux of the debate should always be the very existence of capital punishment.

Tuesday

New approach to active shootings

A deadly shooting in an Elkhart grocery store has focused attention on new police thinking since the 1999 Columbine school shootings and a new type of training that has become commonplace.

Shawn Walter Blair walked into Martin’s Super Market and shot employee Krystle Dikes and customer Rachelle Godfread to death. Police officers Cody Skipper and Jason Tripp then entered the store, caught the shooter’s eye and used that split-second diversion to kill him.

The fact that the officers acted so calmly and deliberately – and, most important – quickly kept the body count lower than it could have been. Just before police shot him, Blair had his gun to the head of the store manager kneeling in front of him, and the man appeared to be praying. The officers had arrived within three minutes of the report and took less than 60 seconds to act.

Wednesday

Good use of Legacy fund

The very name of the $71 million fund created by the sale of the old City Light electric utility – Legacy – says it all. The money is supposed to be spent on changes to the city that will be not only beneficial but lasting as well. The most obvious approach would be to fund two or three big ideas instead of a score of small ones.

But it’s not the only approach. Smaller projects need to be scrutinized with care to make sure the city isn’t frittering away the money. But if a worthy smaller project comes along, it should be funded. The proposed $3 million grant to the University of Saint Francis for its plans to establish a downtown campus is such a project. The City Council should vote to OK it.

The council voted Tuesday to delay a vote on the request, which requires a supermajority of six of nine council members for approval.

Thursday

This isn't an economic issue

You’ve heard the economic argument about gay marriage from chambers of commerce, big-city mayors and the heads of companies such as Eli Lilly and Cummins: If HJR 3, the bill to put a gay marriage ban into the state constitution, is passed, it will send a signal that Indiana does not welcome all, so companies won’t be able to recruit young professionals. There will be “negative economic effects.”

Common sense alone should cast doubt on this prediction. Since a ban is already in state law, wouldn’t any negative effects already have been felt? And how about the fact that 31 states already have constitutional amendments barring same-sex marriage? Why would Indiana have trouble recruiting when it is joining a majority of other states on this issue? If those states have suffered dire consequences, why hasn’t anybody produced evidence of it?

Friday