Mississippi editorial roundup
Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on the possibility of President Trump declaring a national emergency on the nation’s southern boarder:
Republicans and Democrats do not appear close to negotiating an end to the U.S. government shutdown, which has now become the longest shutdown in the nation’s history.
While we continue to call for leaders to work together for a bipartisan solution to the impasse — and a comprehensive immigration reform package — we think it is important they refrain from one of the tools at their disposal.
President Trump had indicated that he was considering declaring a national emergency on the nation’s southern border, a move that would give him greater flexibility to find funding for a border wall. We believe such a move would be a dangerous mistake.
On Monday, the president backed away from the idea, saying: “I’m not looking to call a national emergency. This is so simple we shouldn’t have to,” as reported by the Associated Press.
Trump’s remarks came a day after Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham advocated during an appearance on Fox News Sunday for the possible emergency declaration. We are encouraged to hear that such a possibility now appears unlikely.
It is not appropriate to declare a national emergency in order to merely advance a political priority. Even if advocates can point to challenges on the southern border, they do not rise to anywhere near the threshold of a true emergency, upon close scrutiny. Such declarations should not be made lightly.
For one, doing so would set a dangerous political precedent that could become one of tomorrow’s political tools. Republicans have pointed out, for instance, it could open the door to a Democratic president declaring a national emergency in order to gain more sweeping authority to rein in climate change.
Also, using emergency declarations for political purposes waters down their efficacy when a true emergency arises.
As the president said, the issue should be simple. The problem is, thus far, the sides do not seem to be willing to compromise.
It’s time now for leaders from both parties to come together and work in a direction that actually moves this debate forward and toward a solution. That should not involve an inappropriate declaration of a national emergency. It should involve bipartisan ideas, comprehensive immigration reform, and an agreement that allows closed government functions to resume and unpaid workers to receive their paychecks.
The Commercial Dispatch on long-established standardized test:
As has been noted, this year’s session of the Legislature isn’t likely to take up many controversial topics. For legislators, it’s a matter of self-preservation during an election year.
That, however, doesn’t mean there won’t be some important issues on the agenda during the session.
While there almost certainly won’t be any real effort to rewrite the current K-12 school funding formula and certainly no reason to believe the Legislature will fund the existing formula (something it’s done just twice in its 22 years), that is not to say that some real improvements won’t be considered.
One of the most important issues will be a matter of addition by subtraction.
It’s time to take a hard look at the state testing requirements, something teachers have been advocating — and legislators have been ignoring — for years.
In a state where teacher pay and school funding have been chronically low, the state’s insistence that our kids spend most of their time and energy on test taking is something virtually every teacher in the state laments. “Teaching for the test,” they say, is a disruption of the educational process.
Proponents of the current state testing system say it’s a matter of accountability. Testing ensures that students are prepared for college, workforce programs or entry into the job market.
Funny, though. For years there have been tests that to help achieve that goal: the ACT and the SAT.
While these too are standardized tests and shouldn’t be relied on exclusively to determine college-readiness, they check the box in terms of assessing basic academic skills.
Teachers are sick of teaching for the test, as no doubt, are students and parents, for whom the constant pressure of these “do or die” tests have created enormous and unnecessary stresses.
This year, there are currently four House bills that will end the state’s punitive and redundant testing that can prevent capable students from receiving their diplomas. It’s time Mississippi, like many other states, leave it to tests like the ACT and SAT stand as the college-readiness academic test, allowing teachers to focus on more holistic education.
It’s time to trust our children’s education to our teaching professionals, which means allowing teachers to guide their students through the material in a logical, effective way. No one — and certainly not a politician — is better equipped to understand how the daily task of educating should proceed.
Thankfully, there are signs that there is support for less testing on both sides of the aisle.
This is not a matter of removing accountability. It’s an agreement that long established standardized tests remain the measure of that accountability.
There should be nothing controversial about that.
It’s a chance for the vote-conscious legislators to something important for education.
The Daily Leader on the flu vaccination:
We have said it before but it bears repeating: Get a flu vaccination.
The Mississippi State Department of Health is reporting that flu activity has increased in Mississippi — and nationwide — in the past few weeks.
The predominant flu strain circulating this season is H1N1, which can particularly affect children.
“Children under 4 years of age now have the highest rate of hospitalization for flu than any other age group in the nation. In addition, 13 U.S. pediatric influenza deaths have been reported for the current flu season by the CDC as of December 29. In Mississippi, one pediatric flu death has been reported so far this season,” MSDH reported. “Older adults are also vulnerable to the flu, and outbreaks of flu in nursing homes have been reported to MSDH.”
Flu season typically peaks in January through March in Mississippi, and the flu shot usually takes up to two weeks to produce immunity, MSDH reported.
“Flu shots are recommended for all those six months and older. Those 18 and under who are eligible for the Vaccines for Children program can receive flu vaccination for $10. Insurance, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) is accepted for children’s flu shots.”
While vaccination is the best protection, basic infection control measures can also reduce the spread of flu and should be taken whether or not individuals are vaccinated, MSDH said. These measures include covering your mouth when coughing and sneezing, staying at home when you or your children are sick, and washing your hands frequently.
Be smart when it comes to the flu: get vaccinated and protect yourself and those you love.