The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 4, 1997 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

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Salina, Kansas
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Saturday, October 4, 1997
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12 SATURDAY, OCTOBER 4, 1997 THE SALINA JOURNAL COLLE.GE COSTS ARE UP 5%. MORE TMAW INFLATION 'CATCH 22' /A/ ENGLISH CLASS? George B. Pyle editorial page u editor Opinions expressed on this page are those of the identified writers. To join the conversation, write a letter to the Journal at: P.O. Box 740 Salina, KS 67402 Fax: (785) 827-6363 E-mail: SJLetters® saljournal.com Quote of the day "More guns, more crime, more arrests, more prisons — it's a growth industry." Robert Scheer The Los Angeles Times, on California Qov. Pete Wilson's veto of a bill to ban cheap handguns. By GEORGE B. PYLE / The Salina Journal A sign of the times THE ISSUE A data base for deadbeat dads THE ARGUMENT Privacy fear is bogus D id you hear the news? The federal government is going to start requiring employers in Kansas to report the name of everybody it hires to a government agency. Horrors. And, did you know? A couple of bicycle mechanics from Ohio say they made a machine that can actually fly. Who'd a thunk it? Some members of the Kansas Legislature are getting all hot and bothered about a new federal rule that requires states to keep track of everybody who gets a job in the state, part of a national effort to track down parents who are behind on their child support payments. ' Granted, it's yet another unfunded mandate, another example of how the federal government finds a problem and thinks of a way for the states to solve it. But deadbeat parents are a problem. A huge hunk of the people on welfare in this country are children, children who aren't going to be getting a job any time soon. And a huge hunk of those children are only in that situation because some parent has walked away from his or her — usually his — obligation to support them. The registry of new hires, thus, is part of the welfare reform bill that Kansas Republicans in Congress were so fond of. It is an idea that makes sense. But some state lawmakers see Big Brother in the details. They want laws passed, resolutions approved, perhaps some kind of Boston Tea Party to stand up to this huge invasion of privacy. It is an argument that sounds good. And it is an argument that is about a century out of touch with the real world. Employers are already required to report a slew of information about the people they hire — to the IRS, to whomever it is who collects workers' compensation insurance payments, often to health insurance providers and who knows how many other things. Every one of us has our name on thousands of data bases, government and otherwise, with and without our knowledge or consent. What difference can one more list possibly make? Now, there is reason to be concerned that, in the search for deadbeat dads, the feds may push the state into various unconstitutional searches of private records, even to extra-legal seizure of people's assets and wages. But a simple list of people who get jobs is not in the same league with those concerns. So-called conservative lawmakers, if they are really so concerned about people's privacy, might stop protecting child-support scofflaws and worry more about the privacy of, say, women who seek abortions. And they should stop worrying about one more list of names and turn their attention to some more modern problem. Like ending Prohibition. Let them know- Washington, D.C. • SEN. SAM BROWNBACK: 1 41 Hart Senate Office Building, . Washington, D,C. 20510; Phone: (202) 224*6521; Fax: (202) 228-1 2$5; E-mail: sam_brQ^fib^kfbrownback.sen^te.gpv • SEN. PAT ROBERTS: 302 Mart Setete Offipe Building, , Washington, P.O. ,2051,0; Phonejf(292) 224 r 4774!>' Fax: ,(202) 224-3514;.E-miil] pat^roberte^roberts.senate.gov • REP, JERRY MOHAN; 1217 Longworth House Office Building, Washington; P.C. 2051 & Phone: (202)225-2715; Fax; (202)22§"5124; E*mall:>rry,rnQran@mail.hous,e,gov LETTERS TO THE JOURNAL S J Letters @ saljou rnal.com Each 'new' dog breaks my heart My heart breaks when a "new" dog comes to our porch. He/she usually is covered with buns and ticks. They generally are very hungry and very skittish — tag wagging nervously as to and no tag or collar. I buy food. I try to make friends. I don't know the dog's name or where he came from. They often don't let me get close for a day or two. When I can get close, to talk softly, to remove burrs and ticks, my heart wants so to take them in forever. Sometimes they start jumping on me or nipping at-heeU or hands. Qfterilhey growl when someone else approaches. They have been beaten or chased or generally uncared for. Their owners think they are doing the dog a favor by dropping it off in the country so gome farm can j > T ESSAY Who will write the national tests? Clinton is out to snatch control of education from parents and local government W ASHINGTON — At the moment when Congress is grappling with the education lobby's bid to centralize power with the national testing of students,, comes The New York Times with a stunning series that shows how the world's leading testing organization has for years been a patsy for cheaters. Bill Clinton has just shown himself to be a true believer in snatching from parents the local control of their children's education. He threatens to veto federal support of state education unless "voluntary" testing — using standardized tests created by the Great Cookie- Cutter in Washington — is The New York Times imposed on the states. « But the danger of undue reliance on testing is laid out in the Times series by Douglas Frantz and Jon Nordheimer. In exposing the ease with which hundreds of cheating teachers in Louisiana made a mockery of exams produced by the Educational Testing Service, the reporters dashed a bucketful of reality into the faces of the crusaders doing their leveling best to march from school uniforms to scholastic uniformity. Perhaps that's why some Cajun test-beaters wrote that "The Louisiana English Language T UNCOMMON SENSE WILLIAM SAFIRE Arts Standards draft document is the work of a team of primarily teachers from throughout the state," a sentence prompting The New Orleans Times-Picayune "to wonder what a 'primarily teacher' does.". The debate today is not about testing, a necessary teaching tool. A well-constructed test reinforces what you've learned and exposes what you have failed to learn. And a snap quiz is a real waker-upper to somnolent students. Though not much of a student in class at the Bronx High School of Science, I used to ace the tests. That's because I figured out how to "play" multiple-choice exams, and on essay questions I learned to dance around the subject when I didn't know the answer, and only later found out that the teacher wanted to reward creative writing. So I'm not knocking tests. (Do not use "so" to mean "therefore," Miss Ruth Goldstein instructed, unless you are affecting the breeziness of informal speech.) Rather, I'm resisting national standards — regimented ways of thinking and computing, directed downward from the top — in a nation that should celebrate diversity and individuality. This reflects a classic disagreement between our founders. Alexander Hamilton believed in concentrating power to forge a nation; Thomas Jefferson countered with state and local rights to protect the individual. Today, in education as in health care, William Jefferson Clinton is on Hamilton's side of nationalization and elite establishment control. Those groupthinkers say: Never mind who writes the laws of a nation, or even its popular songs; let us write its tests. Everybody is for "higher standards" in education. The question is: Who sets the standards and writes the tests? The American tradition has been to entrust such decisions to local school boards, run (not always well, but usually democratically) by in, volved parents and teachers in that community, with review by state authorities, and with the feds intervening only when states fail to protect a student's constitutional rights. That's a great tradition. It permits experiments in early child development, such as those undertaken now in Texas, to be emulated elsewhere if and when they work. It prevents horrendous mistakes nationwide, such as adoption of a brainwashed history curriculum that some multikulturkampfers wanted to inflict. Maybe "fuzzy math" is a terrific idea, and a future generation will rely on calculators to balance its checkbooks. But before we abandon arithmetic, let's see how total reliance on an electronic crutch adds up in some locality — and if its users can compete later. We're only talking about math and English, say the national standardbearers, and shucks, it's only voluntary. Don't believe that; if the nose of that camel gets under the tent, the hump of a national curriculum, slavish teaching to homogenizing tests, and a black market in answers would surely follow. Despite the last-ditch efforts of the Clinton- Hamiltonians, the moving force in America today is centrifugal. (That means "away from the center." Its meaning was indelibly impressed on my mind because I got it wrong on a physics test.) Those 'harmless' condoms in schools P.O. Box 740, Salina, KS 67402 "take them in." I have to call the animal shelter — something the owner could have done in town. The owners could get the trusting dog into the car and deliver it to the shelter if they didn't want it. It costs the shelter more gas — more time to drive 18 miles out into the country to pick up a dog. Mike and Rosie are the kindest to animals when they come. The tears roll down my cheeks as I know the real owners won't pick their dog up. I know what happens after a few (lays. My small donation each time this happens doesn't fill that empty bucket. PJease, townspeople, don't bring your dogs to the country. You are being cruel. You are not accepting your responsibility as a pet owner. You are basically a slob on society and it hurts. — MARY ANN TANKING Saline County Premarital sex costs more than money, whether it is 'protected 1 sex or not T he American Journal of Public Health has concluded that handing out condoms in New York City public schools has not increased the number of kids having sex. Apparently we are supposed to feel relieved. One wonders about the reaction had cigarettes been distributed at school, with a survey concluding they did not in- *, crease the number of kids who smoked. Presumably, the anti- smoking police would launch a program to reduce the number of teen smokers With the goal of persuading kids that even smoking filtered cigarettes (the tobacco equivalent of sex with a condom) is bad for you. The study concluded that access to condoms in schools is "a low-cost, harmless addition" to AIDS prevention efforts. It depends how one defines "cost." Premarital sex costs more than money, whether it is "protected" or not. There are emotional, psychological and spiritual costs, but modern government is interested only in the physical. It surrendered its role in the moral development of children shortly after the sexual revolution began and now has traitorously gone over to the other side. CAL THOMAS Los Angeles Times Syndicate * One reason why so many young people are having sex is the loss of objective moral standards. Their models are adults who abandon integrity about as quickly as they abandon their spouses. In one generation, we have passed from the free distribution of Gideon Bibles to the free distribution of condoms. The last I checked, none of the admonitions in the Ten Commandments or the teachings in the New Testament, when followed, cause an unmarried pregnancy or a venereal disease. Those who say that kids are going to "do it" anyway do not express similar views when it comes to racism, sexism or cheating on tests. Why do we assume kids cannot be persuaded to do the right thing for themselves and others and admonish them to rise above their lower nature? For more than three decades we've had sex education in the public schools. Now we're subsidizing free condoms. But "unprotected sex" isn't the problem. Premarital sex is. That's why 1,000 teen-age girls become pregnant every day in America and more than that get abortions. Despite freely administered "information," more than 4,000 teens contract a sexually transmitted disease — daily. Adults send these kids the wrong messages in the television shows and movies they produce. What kids need to be hearing are messages like the one a Washington, D.C., radio announcer delivered on his Sept. 27 program. Charlie Warren of WMAL radio has had enough. After hearing that the November Playboy magazine features Suzan Johnson, the flight attendant who attended Frank Gif- ford in a hotel room last spring, Warren said: "That's enough. I'm tired of this. Marv is guilty. So that's enough. I'm tired of Marv. I'm tired of Frank. I'm tired of Tyson. The Kennedys. The royal family. Fox TV. NBC TV. And Stern. Howard, I don't care how you do it. With whom. How many times. You're boring me. "Fox TV. Get some other jokes. Find some writers who know something other than the details of bodily function. 'The X-Files' is OK. "NBC, you're becoming the new Fox TV. My condolences. Your new show with Kirstie Alley is a notch below crass. "Hefner, Guccione and Flynt. You guys have done your part for years. Thanks for making it seem right for weak men to demean weaker women. "Even Tom Cruise in 'Jerry Maguire.' I'm sorry, Tom. I don't need to see you feigning pleasure, then lying back on the bed all sweaty. It's embarrassing. ; "Publishers, TV and movie producers, sportscasters, athletes, radio personalities, actors, politicians, you all need something to do — and so do we. ; "Love your wife or friend, not somebody else's. Throw a Frisbee with your kid.;Play some touch football. Build a house. Run a mile. Take to the sea, the mountains, the sky.'Shut off the TV and the Internet. Get off your butt and think about something and somebody/else, other than yourself." •• That's pretty good advice. Follow it and;your kids will be less likely to want condoms -from the nurse's office. '., III IESBURY By G.B. TRUDEAU VI&OJNTIS SAIP TO ...ANPTHUSIS SOUPC& CONFIRM THATTHZ IN A ITAKJAN BEACH CUI-TUI& TOUCH MM THm I.W&.COM-

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