Good news that abortions decline
We will keep debating the politics, morality and social implications, but for now let's just pause and celebrate the good news: The number of abortions performed last year in Indiana totaled 7,277, according to data recently released by the State Department of Public Health. That was 8.5 percent fewer abortions than the 7,957 recorded in 2015, continuing an eight-year trend of annual declines in abortion procedures.
If you like hard numbers, that's 680 more babies that were saved from abortion.
And the good news continues. There isn't just a decline in Indiana. Abortions are down across the nation. The rate is now 14.6 abortions per 1,000 women of childbearing age, down from a peak of 29.3 in 1980 and 1981.
Last elected education head
Treat Jennifer McCormick with all the respect due the last of a kind. If she is re-elected in 2020 — and she very probably will be — she will be the last Indiana superintendent of public instruction selected by voters. On Jan. 10, 2025, thanks to a law signed this year by Gov. Eric Holcomb, the state's first-ever appointed education superintendent will take office.
For such a big deal, the legislation passed this past session with very little fanfare. Since we have always been a strong advocate for a governor-appointed superintendent, it's appropriate for us to mark the change with a warning of a possible pitfall:
A lot of people will now have to pay more attention to education. If they don't, our children could suffer.
Feds crash our graduation rates
Indiana has been struggling for years to get its high school graduation rate to an acceptable level, and it has met with some success. Now, thanks to a simple rule change by Washington, its graduation rate will tumble, and as a result schools' ratings could fall as well.
Under the relatively new Every Student Succeeds Act, graduation rates must be calculated uniformly across all states. In Indiana, that means the “general diploma” granted by our high schools can no longer be counted toward graduation rates.
This matters a lot. The general diploma is a pared-down option typically earned by students who struggle academically or those with special needs.
More than luck for Donnelly
Boy, that Joe Donnelly sure is one lucky son of a gun. The only reason the Indiana Democrat was able to sneak into the Senate was that Republicans were stupid enough to nominate Richard Mourdock, a right-wing extremist whose candidacy was doomed the minute he said that a woman who had been raped was “something that God intended to happen.”
Donnelly won't be so lucky this time. This is still a very conservative state, and the GOP next year will surely nominate a more acceptable candidate. The Democrat's days are numbered, and 2018 will be the year when Republicans increase their lead in the Senate by at least one.
But not so fast there, Republican chicken counters. That egg has not quite hatched yet.
Not much for elderly, disabled
It can be fun to consider those state rankings that pop up periodically to show how Indiana stacks up in this or that category.
They are all instructive. Some give us bragging rights to claim we are better than our nearby states. Some are wake-up calls, letting us know we have some work to do in a certain area.
And some should set off alarm bells loud and clear from Lake Michigan to the Ohio River.
Into that category belongs the American Association of Retired Persons' latest report card on providing long-term services and supports for seniors and people with disabilities. Indiana ranks 51st — that's dead last, behind all other states and the District of Columbia.
We can and should do better