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36, politics and education


February 03, 2010
This past week taught me a few things. First, I've settled into life, I think.

OK, it's not exactly an epiphany, but — wow — it really does seem just like yesterday that I was a kid diligently studying St. Louis Cardinals stats while fine-tuning the knobs on the radio in hopes of clearing the static enough to hear Jack Buck's gravelly voice describe another great catch by Ozzie Smith.

Today, I can find the score of any game, no matter the time or place, with just a few taps on my phone, and I now study baseball stats on the Web. Weird.

I turned 36 a week ago Monday. I got home late from work that night and had a voice mail from my dad wishing me a happy birthday. Perhaps it was because I was exhausted after a long deadline day, but when he asked, as he always does, if I felt a year older, I immediately thought, "You have no idea."

I didn't feel fully recovered until Wednesday, when I was able to work out 20 minutes on the elliptical. The few hours after that were the best I felt all week. I really should do that more often, but, like everyone else, who has time?

*****

I don't agree with the president on much, but, that aside, I don't understand why he treated last Tuesday's State of the Union address as a campaign speech, complete with trash talk, not only for the opposition, but the non-partisan Supreme Court.

Not only is it unpresidential and poor form, but, in the case of the Supreme Court, it's a strategic mistake. The attention has been on Justice Samuel Alito shaking his head and mouthing the words "not true" when the president made an erroneous statement about the court's recent Citizens United decision. However, the real attack was on Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion. It was a mistake because Kennedy is often the swing vote when the court is divided.

Speaking of the SOTU, how long are we going to keep hearing the president blame his predecessor for anything and everything? Clinton didn't blame Bush I, Bush II didn't blame Clinton, and, more than a year into office, it's time for this president to move forward. Leadership is about producing results, not making excuses.

*****

Those in Washington should take a lesson from some of our local politicians.

Thursday night, during the Crawford County Board of Commissioners meeting, President Larry Bye, as he always does, let those with concerns address the board for as long as needed.

On Thursday, the issue was concerns about the personnel policy for county EMTs, but for most of the past year, it's been the proposed biomass electricity plant near Milltown. Bye, Randy Gilmore and Jim Schultz have shown respect to residents worried about, as well as in favor of, the plant by letting them speak time and again, although many of the same points have been repeated.

That's what good politicians do: they listen to their constituents. I'm sure not everyone believes the commissioners have taken the right action, but at least their concerns have been heard and taken under consideration. In a representative democracy, that's all we can ask.

*****

Congratulations to the Crawford County Community School Corp.

The school corporation yesterday (Tuesday) was to be the featured school during the Indiana State Board of Education's "Spotlight on Learning" section of its meeting in Indianapolis.

This is the latest highlight for the school system, as English Elementary School has been nominated for the federal No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon School award and Leavenworth Elementary, which received the honor last fall, and Milltown Elementary, which was a Blue Ribbon School four years ago, were named Four Star schools.

Only about eight of the more than 1,000 Indiana schools are nominated for the Blue Ribbon School award each year, while the Four Star designation, which recognizes the top 25 percent of schools in Indiana, is the highest state recognition a school can receive.

On top of that, Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, with a graduation rate of 84 percent last spring, not only was above the state average, but had the second largest percentage increase in the state compared to the previous year.

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