Recent editorials from Georgia newspapers:

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Oct. 14

The Marietta Daily Journal on the Kennesaw State University cheerleaders who knelt during the national anthem:

It took one instance of Kennesaw State University cheerleaders kneeling during the national anthem before the protest came to an abrupt halt.

When Cobb Sheriff Neil Warren witnessed the young women's remonstrance, he was stunned at the lack of respect for the flag, the national anthem and the men and women who serve this nation. He sought out KSU President Sam Olens, who assured him the cheerleaders wouldn't get a second chance. A week later, the squad was nowhere to be seen when the song that pays tribute to the United States of America filled the air of Fifth Third Stadium.

But what a shame it became necessary to bench the cheerleaders in the locker room during America's pregame tradition.

University students have long held protests, as is their right, and they undoubtedly will do so in the future. But a cheerleader is not simply a university student. Once a student becomes a cheerleader or a football player or a member of the debate team or a piccolo player in the band, their status and responsibilities rise. They have chosen to represent their school not just by wearing their colors, but by serving as an example in following the guidelines and practicing the decorum expected of a university. While in uniform, they must understand their actions cast a reflection beyond themselves and onto the university for which they cheer.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants Americans the sacred right of free speech. The slightest tread on the right of people to appropriately express their opinion should be thwarted swiftly and soundly. But there is a time and place for everything.

Ron Paul was correct when he said freedom of speech isn't needed to talk about the weather, but "so we can say some very controversial things." Discussing controversy is healthy and certainly something journalists and the MDJ hold dear. At the same time, there are limitations to free speech. Try streaking across the football field and see if claiming First Amendment protections prevents your arrest. One can't shout fire in a crowded theater. One can't disrupt a school board or city council or county commission meeting to air a grievance.

Beyond the law, there are social considerations. Those who want to try out a Nazi salute on Marietta Square may have a legal right to do so, but should realize ruinous consequences would include being drummed out of polite society.

Democracy ends at the coach's door, as the saying goes.

College students are transitioning from child to adult. During this period, they are young and impressionable and often make unwise choices. They are just beginning to adjust to the realities of an adult world and are at risk of peer pressure when surrounded by liberal idealists who believe they will change the world through disruption.

A neoconservative, Irving Kristol once quipped, "is a liberal who has been mugged by reality." Once these students mature and inherit the responsibilities of adulthood, they may think differently.

What they will unfortunately realize when they try to enter the workforce is their college behavior has followed them now that everything is recorded, catalogued and saved on the internet ad infinitum. They will find, unless they go to work for Al Sharpton or Michael Moore, that they have damaged their future with many potential employers who rightly regard the U.S. flag as the precious symbol that our military men and women have died under while defending this country.

Finally, what's also clear is that these football players and cheerleaders who claim to be taking a knee to protest police brutality have utterly failed to get their message across. By choosing to kneel during the national anthem, the vast majority of Americans aren't seeing a protest over law enforcement; they're seeing an act of disrespect. Put another way, say a handful of Birkenstock-wearing environmentalists, upset by President Trump withdrawing from the Paris climate deal, chose to take a knee during the anthem. Most would see the kneelers disrespecting the flag rather than calling out carbon footprints.

Better to protest in front of the decision-makers than the arenas where crowds are hoping to relax and refresh at a football game, not be forced to witness a political protest.

The job of a cheerleader is to encourage those in the stadium, not to alienate them. The job of a cheerleader is to represent the school, its students, its alumni and its fans, not to promote personal political opinion.

Most importantly, the job of a cheerleader is to unite, not divide.

Online: http://www.mdjonline.com/

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Oct. 17

The Augusta Chronicle on school technology programs:

Remember in school when a "tablet" consisted of wide-ruled sheets of pulp paper with an Indian chief on its cover?

Maybe that's reaching back too far. But it's never too late to reach forward.

The Richmond County School System is one of 118 school districts across the country to receive free electronic tablets from the telecommunications company Sprint. The company's 1Million Project aims to put 1 million tablets in the hands of American high-schoolers.

If the students don't have Internet access at home — and too many Richmond County students don't — Sprint said it will provide that, too.

On Monday, 60 freshmen at Butler High School represented the first local cohort of students to receive tablets. That tablet group is expected to grow to more than 500.

As taxpayers, you should like the price tag on this project — free, at least for now.

As parents, you should like the aim of this project, which is to put helpful technology in the hands of students so they can more easily and efficiently pursue academics.

But for that aim to reach its target, strong oversight will have to be required.

If there's one thing educators have discovered since introducing technology into the classroom, it's that many students tend to know more about technology than the faculty. And if there's a way to use a school computer for non-school shenanigans, a student can find that way.

That's why this program should require drum-tight security. The tablets also should be subject to regular inspections by school officials to assure the tablets are being used for their intended purpose. Think of it as an electronic version of a surprise locker inspection.

The use of these tablets is backed up by a comprehensive school-system technology policy for how they're supposed to be operated appropriately. It's addressed to students, faculty and even parents. If everybody cleaves to that then the 1Million Project can work out as intended.

We mentioned earlier that the project is free for now. If it expands, it mustn't break taxpayers' backs. Disseminating smart technology to students requires a smart way to make it work financially.

When Los Angeles' school district decided in 2013 to put iPads into the hands of every single student in every single school, the result was a notorious disaster.

But the Milpitas Unified School District, also in California, tried a similar plan in 2012 with cheaper Chromebooks — and an early realization that every student didn't need one. They can be, and are, shared instead. The project moves forward steadily, and its ability to continue is measured carefully based on which schools could benefit from it.

All sectors of our community are being touched by Augusta's growing cyber presence, and the field of education is a crucial component in assuring that the cyber industry succeeds here, particularly in growing an adroit workforce.

But that can't be done entirely on notebook paper. At some point, technology such as tablets has to enter the picture — and making sure they're used wisely to make students smarter. Let's hope the Richmond County School System can help steer this tablet program to success.

Online: http://chronicle.augusta.com/

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Oct. 14

The Savannah Morning News on how the Girl Scouts are affected by the Boy Scouts' decision to accept girls:

Savannah is proud to be the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low, who founded the Girl Scouts of America here in 1912. Her home is designated a registered National Historic Landmark.

A meeting in 1912 with Sir Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Boy Scouts, inspired "Daisy" Low to establish the Girl Scouts. Telephoning a cousin from her home, she announced, "I've got something for the girls of Savannah, and all of America, and all the world, and we're going to start it tonight!"

From that first gathering of a small troop of 18 culturally and ethnically diverse girls, Daisy broke the conventions of the time — reaching across class, cultural, and ethnic boundaries to ensure all girls, including those with disabilities, had a place to grow and develop their leadership skills. She was a trail-blazer who opened doors and changed the public's perception of women as the weaker sex.

Using her innate talent for fundraising and public relations, combined with her vast network of friends and supporters, she led the Girl Scouts with passion and determination — ensuring it was, and always would be, an experience that was "girl led."

She died in 1927, at her home in Savannah, after a long and private struggle with breast cancer.

Sadly, the venerable organization that she founded appears to be under attack by another venerable organization, the Boy Scouts of America, which made an earth-shaking announcement last Wednesday that it will accept girls as full-fledged scouts. In the beginning, girls would be able to join the Cub Scouts as part of girls-only "dens," and by next year a program would be established that would give select older girls the opportunity to reach the coveted, highest rank of Eagle Scout.

The decision by the Boy Scouts has touched off a nasty dust-up between the organizations.

In a letter to the Boy Scouts, the national president of Girl Scouts of the USA, Kathy Hopinkah Hannan, claims the Boy Scouts are engaged in a "covert campaign to recruit girls" into their programs.

Ms. Hannan expressed two major grievances. First, that the Boy Scouts are looking at expanding to a co-ed model, which would undercut Girl Scouts membership. And second, that the Boy Scouts are being sneaky about their intentions, having apparently glossed over those plans in a recent phone conversation between Hannan and Randall Stephenson, national president of the Boy Scouts.

"We were disappointed in the lack of transparency as we learned that you are surreptitiously testing the appeal of a girls' offering to millennial parents," Ms. Hannan wrote to Mr. Stephenson. "Furthermore, it is inherently dishonest to claim to be a single gender organization while simultaneously endeavoring upon a co-ed model."

She is correct.

Indeed, the move by the Boy Scouts smacks of desperation. The organization has been hurting, as it has lost a third of its membership since 2000. While both groups must do more to prop up sagging memberships, and to serve under-served youths, that doesn't excuse the Boy Scouts of poaching.

These organizations are not rivals. Indeed, they should be full-fledged partners engaged in the important mission of molding the healthy characters of future young men and women of America.

It must be pointed out that the Girl Scouts aren't just a female version of the Boy Scouts. The Girl Scouts of the USA is a separate organization. It has its own leadership and structure. The Boy Scouts may try to explain away its recent decision as a response to public demand, especially from some millennial parents who believe the Boy Scouts experience will be beneficial for their daughters, this move is a dismaying and disappointing threat to the Girl Scouts.

Indeed, the stage is now set for the two organizations to use their limited resources to engage in a membership war.

Both groups are great organizations with a century of success and have a right to move forward as its leadership chooses. It's distressing that the Boy Scouts, founded in 1910, have charted a future that seems to put it on a collision course with the Girl Scouts.

Growing up is difficult enough. The Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts have offered safe, same-gender venues where participants are free to grow and develop as individuals, and serve in leadership roles, without the added social pressures that come with teen-age adolescence. It's the same principle that many all-boys and all-girls schools have embraced with much success. The Boy Scouts should reconsider this latest decision, which is a step backward.

If the Boy Scouts want to beef up their ranks, they shouldn't target girls. Instead, they should target potential members who live in under-served communities who would greatly benefit from the programs that scouting offers. The Girl Scouts may also have to find ways to improve its Gold Award, the top achievement in Girl Scouting.

There is some thought that some parents who were pushing the Boy Scouts to serve girls were motivated by their desire to see their daughters become Eagle Scouts as a positive step in their career path. That's understandable. The rank of Eagle Scout is prestigious and is a widely recognized sign of accomplishment that few achieve.

The desire from parents who want to see their children succeed and become leaders and good citizens should be applauded. The best way to address this positive demand is for both the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to focus on what they do best — their programming. While seeking inclusivity and diversity are good things, they lose their appeal when they begin to hurt other existing groups, like the Girl Scouts.

The spirit ignited by Juliette Gordon Low in Savannah more than a century ago still burns today, and nothing good will be accomplished by the Boy Scouts' attempt to snuff it out or intrude on its territory. Sadly, both fine organizations are likely to suffer as a result. Leaders should try to quickly resolve this dispute.

These groups have provided role models for millions of Americans. They preach the importance of loyalty, service to God and country and making this world a better place. The Boy Scouts should practice what it preaches.

Online: http://savannahnow.com/