Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:

Akron Beacon Journal, Feb. 17

Would Ohio do well to consolidate three education-related agencies into one big Department of Learning and Achievement? Cliff Rosenberger thinks so. The House speaker sees the merger of the departments of Education, Higher Education and the Governor's Office of Workforce Transformation as "a huge piece" in strengthening the state's "foundation."

State Rep. Bill Reineke, a Tiffin Republican and the sponsor of House Bill 512, argues the consolidation would allow the state to realign its education offices with the objectives of improving responsiveness, achieving efficiencies and better preparing the workforce in an ever-changing economy. He cites the change as key to reaching the goal of 65 percent of Ohioans by 2025 having some type of higher education certificate or degree. (Currently, the share is 43 percent.)

The proposal echoes the pitch that John Kasich has been making to give the governor more authority in shaping and implementing education policy. The governor would appoint the director of the new department. The State Board of Education would play a diminished role.

In theory, much of that makes sense. Giving the governor a stronger hand would clarify lines of accountability. Who can argue with making government more nimble, quick and effective?

What Rosenberger and Reineke must show is how their idea would deliver in the concrete. In that way, Peggy Lehner, the chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee, brings fitting skepticism to the discussion. If the speaker wants to win passage by the spring, Lehner rightly noted the absence of adequate stakeholder input. That conversation promises to get at the unexpected pitfalls, barriers and other challenges.

More, there's no guarantee that bigger is better. Large organizations may be vulnerable to embedded bureaucracies, or another version of the fragmentation the bill seeks to overcome.

So, the idea deserves exploration, The evaluation also requires the care Lehner has in mind.

Online: http://bit.ly/2HwiBi9

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Cleveland Plain Dealer, Feb. 20

The Trump administration still doesn't get that the Great Lakes are a national treasure, an environmental boon, source of drinking water for tens of millions and a generator of billions in annual wages.

Latest evidence: President Donald Trump's budget again takes the hatchet to Great Lakes funding, proposing to eliminate nearly 90 percent of Great Lakes Restoration Initiative spending by cutting the current from $298 million to $30 million.

Ironically, $30 million is the same as the high end of White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney's estimates for the cost of the president's proposed military parade. A parade won't improve the nation's bottom line. Spending on Great Lakes protections has had an ongoing positive impact on earnings and private investment.

Luckily, President Trump's misguided Great Lakes budget cuts will not pass muster with either Republican or Democratic lawmakers who recognize that protecting Lake Erie and the other Great Lakes is in the national interest — and who successfully beat back the president bid last year to zero out GLRI funding. ...

Still, it's troubling that the Trump administration continues to ignore the evidence of the worth of this spending and of the national support for Great Lakes protections. ...

Shorting the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative makes no sense — and would do lasting damage to this region's future. Fortunately, Ohio's congressional delegation and other Great Lakes lawmakers understand that and appear determined to resist the administration's shortsighted cuts. They must.

Online: http://bit.ly/2ooPFQD

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The Columbus Dispatch, Feb. 20

"We call BS."

It was just one of many highlights of Emma Gonzales' powerhouse speech on Saturday, but it may be the one that best defines a growing national backlash against the gun-rights absolutism that has held sway over American politics for decades.

From the angry survivors of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School to people who are posting and sharing the names of politicians who have accepted donations from the National Rifle Association, support seems to be building for additional controls on the sale of guns. Along with it is a call for more-effective responses when people display the clear signs of mental disturbance and violence that so many saw in Nikolas Cruz, the alleged Florida shooter.

Like so many other social-change movements, it may be led by the young. ...

Americans of Gonzales' age and younger have grown up with a worry not faced by earlier generations: "active-shooter" drills in school. They are angry that mass shootings continue with no change in the nation's permissive gun laws or in the way society deals with those who appear to be mentally ill and dangerous.

We hope this movement will be strong and sustained enough to counter the voices of those who don't think America has a problem with guns.

Online: http://bit.ly/2C7We3b

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The Lima News, Feb. 17

Everyone agrees: Someone should do something to prevent the next school shooting tragedy.

The answer is far more complicated than making it more difficult for people to get guns, though. Obviously criminalizing school shootings must not be that effective, given that it's already illegal to kill people in numbers large or small, yet people still do it.

The answer isn't removing every gun that looks frightening. The Second Amendment is too foundational in our freedoms for that. The answers are so much more complicated than that.

No, we must adjust the conversation entirely. We must change the conversation from addressing school shootings to adjusting our nation's violent culture that refuses to step out and help someone. ...

We should recognize efforts to protect our children, such as football coach and security guard Aaron Feis, who jumped in front of the shooter to shield the students. We should recognize the Buckeye Firearms Association's FASTER Saves Lives program, which gives educators intensive violence response and trauma first aid training at no cost to the school district. We welcome some local district's openness to discussing properly trained educators having firearms in their classrooms to help protect their students.

This is a complicated problem that will take money and changing attitudes to solve. The country didn't devolve into this state overnight, nor should it expect to crawl back from it overnight.

When we think about who should prevent the next school shooting tragedy, the answer is all of us.

Online: http://bit.ly/2Fizw79