Argus-Leader from Sioux Falls, South Dakota on October 29, 1999 · Page 19
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Argus-Leader from Sioux Falls, South Dakota · Page 19

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Sioux Falls, South Dakota
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Friday, October 29, 1999
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Page 19
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Argus Leader "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievance." -First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution Argus Leader editorial board members: Arnold Garson President and Publisher331-2250 David Ledford Executive Editor331-2332 Shirley Ragsdale Editorial Page Editor331-2326 Cindy Uken Associate Editorial Page Editor331-2328 Brian Prlester Marketing Director331-2237 Greg Robinson Controller331-2280 PINIOI Friday Oct. 29, 1999 Sioux Falls, South Dakota 9B EDITORIALS Jdoweiniile Jojstoce history Showing remorse for one's crime opens doors What kid hasn't done something impetuous only to regret it minutes later? Reckless youths filled with pangs of conscience deserve a second chance to make things right outside the uncompromising confines of a courtroom hearing. Police Accountability Conferencing could be that second chance for South Dakota youths. It's a new-fangled name for some good old-fashioned punishment - making juveniles feel ashamed for what they did. The program brings juveniles charged with low-level offenses face-to-face with their victims to work out and sign formal agreements of restitution. The program gives first-time offenders who show remorse for their crimes exactly what they need: time - and a chance - to change the error of their ways. It also gives kids an opportunity to admit their guilt and make things right with their victim and their parents. Another chance is all that some kids need to put them on the right path. The Anoka Minn., Police Department started the program in 1994. It proved suc cessful and is catching like wild fire. Even the Los Angeles Police Department is hooked on it. The success rate of the "program speaks for itself. Between 1994 and December ' 1998, Anoka police held 174 conferences involving 284 youths. Eight have reoffended. The goal of the program is to iget to kids early and try to prevent them from entering "the system." Why? Because statistics show that once a child enters the system, they become part of it. In Minnesota where the conferencing program originated, 90 percent of the state's youth who go through the juvenile corrections system have adult felony records by the time they turn 24; 70 percent of J those end up in adult prison. J South Dakota is lucky to be next in line for the training. 'Conferencing training will be I facilitated through the Min- City must meet needs of diverse languages Immigrants provide opportunities for community's future Diversity in Sioux Falls schools is growing. More than 700 students with little or no English skills are enrolled this year. It is a challenge to the school system to provide adequate instruction to them -especially when you consider that the students come to us from families speaking 45 different languages. . That means community programs and services beyond education must be prepared to be multilingual. These families - and more - are working, paying taxes and shopping in Sioux Falls. Every attempt must be made to make them feel welcome. The breakdown of languages spoken by foreign-born students in Sioux Falls schools is an eye-opener. The numbers of students speaking a language other than English include: Spanish -192. Russian - 78. Bosnian - 46. Vietnamese - 43. Amharic-40. Serbo-Croation-40. nehaha County Sheriffs Department, which received a $5,000 federal block grant as well as additional money from state training If M Mike Milstead funds. The infusion of state money further underscores the validity of the program. The first in a series of local and regional training sessions is Dec. 14 in Sioux Falls. The program will be a welcome way to help address the state's skyrocketing juvenile crime. In South Dakota, juveniles now represent nearly one of every three criminal defendants, putting the state well above the national average of about 18 percent. It's true that conferencing represents a change in philosophy from sending youths through the court system. Though change can sometimes be difficult, the advantages to this pendulum swing are clear: It shortens the time between the crime and consequences, catches some kids before they head down the wrong road and significantly reduces the chances that the kids involved in conferencing will reoffend. Conducted by a trained police juvenile officer and with the consent of the victim, conferencing occurs within two weeks of referral. Possible punishment includes police supervision of the offender, financial restitution, community services and curfews. "It's a step back into the old days," said Minnehaha County Sheriff Mike Milstead, who helped secure the grant. "Fifty years ago if a kid got in trouble, he went home to his parents and there were immediate consequences for his actions." Given the stringency of the program, odds are good that it can help prevent participating youths from reoffending. The program has merit, but it will work only if parents, schools and the community buy into it. Preventing crime is the community's business. Arabic -33. Ukranian-31. Kurdish -28. Neur-23. Oromo-20. Laothian, Pah Xa Lao -17. Ethiopian -13. Tigrinya -12. Zhongwen, Chinese - 10. German - 9. Kinyarwanda - 8. Dinka-7. Hrvatski, Croation - 7. French - 6. There are 23 additional languages spoken by groups of students of five and fewer. And 10 students are the only ones in the school system speaking their language. Our schools and community are richer for the exchange between our society and the far-flung cultures of these new residents. Our teachers are on the front line of providing the guide to learning by becoming cultural mediators. Regardless of the place of interaction -educational, social or business - it must be clear that immigrants don't have to lose their national identity in order to fit in. The best way to make the most of the opportunities - on both sides - is to be sensitive to the need. Base the exchange on respect. Seat belts more I must respond to Thomas J. Atkins' letter to the editor in which he states that "we must worry about legislation that matters and stay out of people's personal business." Wearing a seat belt is more than a personal choice. Wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of serious injury or death by 55 percent each time we ride or drive in a motor vehicle. The chances are one-in-three that sometime each driver in the United States will be in a serious automobile accident. These statistics unfortunately rise when we consider our teen-age drivers. There are too many excuses for not wearing a safety belt - it is Raise state's share of education funding Thanks to state Rep. Dick Brown for asking the Legislature's Interim School Finance Committee for a higher minimum level of state financing for school districts. Improving the education South Dakota offers its young citizens is the best investment we could make to strengthen a state that lags at or near the bottom in too many state-to-state comparisons, such as teacher salaries, average annual income and families with one stay-home parent. We need to pay teachers more, and we need to support our students by hiring more teachers so that we can reduce the size of their classrooms. Twenty-five to 30 students in one classroom is too many. Assigning a teaching aid to an oversized classroom is not the answer, either. Research proves that students learn best at a ratio of 1 5 students to one teacher. In 1998, President Clinton recognized the key to making our schools the best in the world - good teachers and small classes. He recommended an average of 18 students per classroom for grades kindergarten, first, second and third. House health-care reform bill squeezes small businesses By DALE SLAUGHTER I felt I must respond to the South Dakota Democratic party's partisan attack on Congressman John Thune, R-S.D., in the Argus Leader. The article is bad, but the headline was even worse. On Tuesday, Thune had a multi-column article in the Argus explaining exactly how and why he voted on the issue of HMO reform. Two days later, state Democrats are asking him to explain his position. Maybe they should try reading the paper first. Contrary to the opinion of the Argus Leader expressed in the Oct. 13 editorial, Thune made the right decision for employers, employees and the uninsured when he voted against HMO reform legislation that the U.S. House of Representatives passed earlier this month. As a small-business owner, I can attest to the fact that no one wants health-care reform more than small business, because small business and its employees are among those who need it most. Fully one in six of the working uninsured is a small-business owner. The so-called "patients' bill of rights" legislation would permit trial lawyers to sue managed care VOICE OF THE PEOPLE than preference: It can be life or death uncomfortable, it is too restrict ing, it wrinkles my suit, it takes too much time. While we are "deciding" if this trip requires our seat belt, we put our lives and the lives of our passengers in harms way. Seat-belt usage must be mandatory. No trip is too short for our seat belt. South Dakota places fines on littering at $200, yet can fine us only $20 when we don't wear a seat belt. My daughter, Melissa, made the personal choice to not wear her seat belt on a beautiful summer morning. While on her way to summer volleyball camp, she decided to not buckle up. Five minutes later and one mile from Now it's time for our political leaders to call for improvements in our classrooms here in South Dakota. Please, follow Brown's lead and make funding education a priority. - Carla C. Maas Sioux Falls Don't forget it's crucial to vote in local elections Nov. 2 is Election Day in Minnesota. Although this year's elections may not come with all the fanfare and hoopla that we find in a congressional or presidential election year, it's no less important for voters to turn out to select members to their local school boards, vote in special elections and make decisions on local ballot initiatives. By voting this year, Minnesotans exercise their right - indeed, their responsibility - to determine the future of their children's education and their community's development. After all, when it comes to making decisions about our schools, neighborhoods and how our tax dollars are spent, local citizens and local governments know best. And those decisions begin at the ballot box. As the national media clamors 7 READER'S FORUM Dale Slaughter, 70, of Madison is owner of Krugg Products Co. and a state representative. Guest columns may be submitted to: Reader's Forum, Argus Leader, Box 5034, Sioux Falls, SD 571 1 7-5034. You may also e-mail the information to editorargusleader.com or fax it to 605-331 -2294. companies and employers for punitive damages. That means that small-business owners who provide health insurance to their employees would suddenly be open to lawsuits - just because they provide health insurance. When you consider the fact that the average small business is just one lawsuit away from going out of business, what do you suppose the average small-business owner will do when faced with the prospect of being sued? Drop coverage. Furthermore, the legislation would push health-insurance costs up, adding to the number of uninsured Americans and limiting choices for small businesses, their employees and all healthcare con our house the consequences of her decision are now part of every day of my life. She died that morning as she swerved to miss something in the road and rolled gently into the ditch. It was officially a "minor" roll over. But because she was not strapped in, she was ejected through the sun roof and killed instantly. Jim Lawler's proposed legislation is not poking into people's personal business. It is legislation that matters. He, as each of us should be, is worried about the health and life of the people of South Dakota. - Susan K. Keiser Alcester prematurely over next year's presidential election, let's all remember that before we decide who will oversee over our national affairs from the White House, we must first help to determine the course of our communities by voting on Nov. 2. For more information on this year's election, or how and where to register to vote, please contact the office of Minnesota Secretary of State Mary Kiffmeyer at 651-215-1440. - U.S. Sen. Rod Grams R-Minn. Air your views here We welcome Voice of the People letters that have a maximum of 200 words and are written exclusively to the Argus Leader. All are subject to editing and condensation. Write: Voice of the People P.O. Box 5034 Sioux Falls, S.D. 57117-5034 Fax: 605-331-2294 e-mail: IP9 editorargusleader.com For verification purposes: Please include your mailing address and daytime phone number. Only your name and community of residence will be published. sumers. The editorial said, "Even if lawsuits do bump up prices, it would be well worth the expense." I cannot believe the Argus Leader is that out of touch with the working men and women of South Dakota. Does the paper not realize that for every 1 percent increase in costs, another 300,000 people lose their health insurance. What the paper fails to realize, Thune clearly understands. What good is the right to sue if you cannot exercise the right because you have no coverage in the first place? The growing ranks of the uninsured deserve attention. Congressman Thune should be commended for taking a stand for the insured and the uninsured. 4n DONALD KAUL God bless Reform Party for making politics funny The presidential race is looking like a cross between "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" and "Entertainment Tonight." No sooner had Donald Trump, the New York ladies manreal estate developer, withdrawn from the Republican Party, hinting that he might seek the Reform Party's nomination, than Pat Buchanan did the same, except he announced he was running for the Reform nomination. Trump said he was abandoning the Republicans because the party has become "too crazy right." Buchanan said he was quitting because the party isn't crazy right enough, or words to that effect. That tells you all you need to know about the Reform Party, which has been represented by Ross Perot in the last two national elections and which Minnesota governor-wrestler Jesse Ventura calls home. It is like a rubber suit: It takes on the shape of whoever is wearing it. I wish both gentlemen well. Politics is a pretty dreary business these days - what with the country being run by the likes of Jesse Helms, Tom DeLay and Mitch McConnell -so it's good to have a party that's good for a laugh once in a while. It's pretty hard for an objective observer to choose between The Donald and Pitchfork Pat. Surely you'd have to be made of stone not to be moved by Trump's ambivalence about meeting the public. "What's really tough," he told the New York Times, "is when you're at a dinner eating a roll and some guy comes out of the bathroom and says, 'It's an honor to meet you, Mr. Trump,' and sticks his hand out." Buchanan, on the other hand, is veteran of the political wars and pressing the flesh holds no terrors for him. He is a master of the incendiary sound bite and his announce ment speech the other day was mined with them. For example: "Today, candor compels us to admit that our vaunted two-party system is a snare and a delusion, a fraud upon the nation. Our two parties have become nothing but two wings of the same bird of prey. ... "Neither party speaks for the forgotten Americans whose jobs were sent overseas to finance the boom market of the 1990s that the rest of us enjoy. ... Neither fights today with conviction and courage to rescue God's country from the cultural and moral pit into which she has fallen. ... "My friends, this year is our last chance to save our republic, before she disappears into the godless New World Order that our elites are constructing in a betrayal of everything for which our Founding Fathers lived, fought, and died." Stop beating around the bush, Pat, and just say what you mean. Actually, Buchanan's announcement was a brilliant instrument of its kind, appealing as it did to the hard-core paranoia that is imbedded in each of the parties, left and right. He cast the United States in the role of an island of virtue surrounded by pagans with evil intentions, evil he promised to protect us from with military might, trade barriers and immigration walls. Well, at least you can't accuse him of not having a plan. The pot at the end of the Reform Party rainbow, of course, is the $ 13 million in federal campaign money Perot earned with his showing in 1996. That's not a lot of money as presidential campaigns go these days, but it is $ 1 3 million more than Trump or Buchanan has raised. I don't give either fellow much of a shot at the Reform nomination, however. Perot didn't spend those tens of millions of his own money so that a ruffian like Buchanan or a dilettante like Trunp could steal it out from under him. I suspect that when the Reform Party goes on the ballots in the fall of next year, Perot's name, reluctantly offered, will be at the top of the ticket. Unless, of course, it's Jesse Ventura. Or Cybill Shepherd. Or somebody. In any case, both Trump and Buchanan were guilty of bad timing in their announcements. Buchanan should have waited for Halloween; Trump for April Fools' Day. Donald Kaul writes a nationally syndicated column for the Des Moines Register. Write him at Tribune Media Services, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.

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