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The Herald-News from Passaic, New Jersey • Page B9
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The Herald-News from Passaic, New Jersey • Page B9

The Herald-Newsi
Passaic, New Jersey
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PAGE B9 HERALDNEWS Malcolm A. Borg, Chairman of the Board Douglas Clancy, Executive Editor Stephen H. McCarthy, Editor Richard G. Everett, Managing Editor Ulysses J. Rivers, Editorial Page Editor Wednesday, April 9, 2008 Opinion Doing the right thing on paid family leave Legislation will bring practical relief to workers This week, New Jersey lawmakers sent to Gov. Jon S. Corzine the final version of a historic piece of legislation, the so-called paid family leave act. If signed into law, it would make the Garden State only the third state in the union to require employers to provide their work position and the contentiousness of the debate as the Senate approved the final measure 21-15 on Monday: "What do we do? While our economy's hemorrhaging, this Legislature is prescribing a release time for maternity leave, or to care for an ailing loved one, some have been less than understanding. This law helps even that playing field. Practically, the legislation brings New Jersey workers real-life relief in their greatest time of need. It is small reward, when you think about it, for the people who are the nuts and bolts of the New Jersey economy, many of whom live paycheck to paycheck, and without whom larger corporations might have little profit to show in the first place. Yes, we live in uncertain economic times, but that is no excuse to scuttle sensible, pay-as-you-go legislation that benefits New Jersey workers at a minimal cost. OUR VIEW passed the Assembly last month, might help erase some, though certainly not all, of that anxiety. Besides, doing the right thing for working families should not be simply a matter of "good timing." If that were the case, no progressive legislation of any sort would ever pass. This bill offers workers leave at two-thirds their salary, up to $524 per week, for six weeks. It would be paid for through payroll deductions an estimated $33 per year. In addition, people working for companies with more than 50 employees would be guaranteed a job when they return. Estimates by the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services are that 38,000 of the state's 4 million workers would take family leave in its first full year. It would be administered through the state's Temporary Disability Insurance program. It would also boost a federal law that already allows workers in companies of 50 employees or more up to 12 weeks of unpaid family leave. While many companies in this state have shown they are good corporate citizens, and are willing to give employees ers paid leave to care tor a newborn or adopted child or to look after a sick family member. The bill had met stiff opposition from many of the state's business lead blood thinner. While it is true that the nation and this state face uncertain economic times, it is also true that ordinary working Americans, faced ers and had been demonized by conservative legislators. Sen. Joseph Pennacchio, R-Montville, invoked the spirit of the op with ever-rising health care costs and higher gasoline prices among other expenses, are more vulnerable than ever. New Jersey's paid leave bill, which 0 Bleak future for America's young people UAlfoEWATHY rue aowAjc" oojvie Nationally, only seven out of every 10 students successfully finish high school. Many Americans reacted with shock and awe to a recent report stating that more than 1.2 million young people in the United States do not graduate from high school annually. But not me. Not only did it not surprise me, but I was glad to see it. Not that I'm insensitive to the problem or take pleasure in the misfortune of others. But I've been aware of the seriousness of the issue for many years, and I'm hoping it LETTERS TO THE EDITOR high-school dropout rates are calculated. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings said in a press conference that from now on, states will be required to report high-school graduation rates in a more uniform way. Up to now, they had been using different methods of measuring the dropout rates, which were sometimes based on unreliable information. I guess this is as close as you can get to the administration actually recognizing that the so-called No Child Left Behind Act is not working all that well and is leaving many of our children behind. The education law attempts to punish public schools that don't live up to certain progress goals by limiting their federal funds. It would not be surprising if some school districts were coming up with creative ways to avoid getting sanctioned. Secretary Spellings called the high-school dropout crisis a "silent epidemic." But there have been cries of help throughout the years that apparently have fallen on deaf ears. Uniform ways of measuring graduation rates doesn't sound like a solution, but according to Spellings, President Bush likes to say, "You can't solve a problem until you diagnose it." Let's hope they get a more accurate diagnosis, identify the source of the epidemic and begin treatment soon. For the students, the consequences of not getting a basic education are serious. High-school dropouts are twice as likely to be unemployed, three times more likely to live in poverty and eight times more likely to end up in jail. If you think the future of our youth is bleak, wait till you see what it does for the productivity of our country in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. Maria Elena Salinas is a syndicated columnist. Reach her at Maria Elena will take this Salinas kind of alarming information to shake things up and finally get something done about it. Some of the findings are truly unsettling. Every 26 minutes, a youth in our country will drop out of high school. Nationally, only seven out of every 10 students successfully finish high school. Seventeen of the nation's 50 largest cities have graduation rates lower than 50 percent. It's no wonder the report is accurately titled "Cities in Crisis." Among other things, the study which focused on graduation rates found that students in urban areas are 15 percent less likely to graduate than those who attend school in the suburbs. Hardest hit are the cities of Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit and Indianapolis, where fewer than 35 percent of students graduate with a diploma. Particularly affected are males and minorities. The report claims that male students have graduation rates eight percentage points lower than females, and that the gap between whites and minorities can reach as high as 25 percentage points nationally. A study presented at the National Council of La Raza's annual conference last summer showed that education was the No. 1 issue on the minds of Hispanic voters, and the high-school dropout rates among young Latinos were their primary concern. Yet we do not hear the presidential hopefuls putting education at the forefront of their campaigns. The Bush administration reacted to the new report, announcing that it will be implementing changes in the way Bush finally masters platform of unity President George W. Bush has finally united the country. According to the latest polls taken on April 4, 81 percent of Americans feel that the country is headed in the wrong direction. Heckuva job, George! Thomas Sklarski, Garfield Return Brown to Paterson board I am writing to endorse Chauncey I. Brown, III, for re-election to the Paterson School Board on Tuesday, April 15. Brown has shown enthusiasm for the students in Paterson Public Schools. Chauncey has been a certified Master Board Member since 2005 and has proven to be a commissioner who is very knowledgeable on policy. NJSQSAC, the law that determines how state-operated districts return to local control, recognized that board "governance" is an essential component. The Paterson school board, under Brown's leadership as its former president, has established the policy committee to assess, develop and implement sound policy for the district. In my view, there are other good candidates vying for the city school board. Dr. Jonathan Hodges, Maritza Davila and Theodore "TJ" Best are all good options that the Paterson community could choose from on April 15. Brown continues to fight for all the stu dents in our public schools. He continues to remind the State Department of Education to live up to the New Jersey Supreme Court's rulings in the Abbott v. Burke in that all schools should be fully funded based on need. Brown has expressed publicly that our children are being left behind. To that end, please vote row 3-A on April 15. Quincy Battis, Paterson A new era of bias in print, network media There was a time, not too long ago, when newspapers used to print stories accurately and without a hint of any bias. "Just the facts," as Sgt. Joe Friday used to say. The same, of course, can't be said of the broadcast TV networks. They always weave their slant into their reports to conform to their own agenda, especially where it involves politics. Of late, though, it seems newspapers, including the Herald News, have adopted the same format in their reporting. Whereas in previous years, cartoons, editorials and letters to the editor were relegated to the editorial page, opinions are now seem slyly interwoven within the stories themselves and in some cases, not reported at all. Cases in point were the ranting of Barack Obama's pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the more recent misspeaking by Hillary Rodham Clinton of her sniper experience in Bosnia. Neither of these stories appeared in many of the local newspapers I read. It seems any negative stories about the Democratic presidential candidates are not worthy of publication or airing. Thank God for the cable TV stations. I would urge folks to watch what they read in the newspapers and listen to network television when an unchallenged lie becomes truth if repeated enough times. John Nick, Clifton Considering so-called 'success' of the surge This week's violence in Iraq gives lie to the Bush-Cheney-Petraeus mantra that the surge is working. The reasons for the reduction in violence during the past several months are five-fold: first, 2 million Iraqis fled the country and another 1 million fled Baghdad; second, Bush-Cheney-Petraeus have been paying -the proper term might be "bribing" Iraqis; as First Sgt. R. Meiers of the Army's Third Division said: "We're paying them not to blow us up." Third, the Sunni and Shiite areas in Baghdad have been walled off, effectively separating the groups. Fourth, U.S. forces are in a hunkered down state that is, they are not out in force as they had been earlier in the occupation. Fifth, and most important, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has pulled his army from the fray. In order for a surge to have worked, Bush would have had to commit at least 250,000 more troops, troops we do not have. A.J. Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, put his finger on the one undeniable success of the surge: it deflected calls for a complete withdrawal of U.S. combat forces. Michael Feula, Dover DOONESBURY FLASHBACK by Garry Trudeau WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU mmtiwi ww RBCFUITGP THDUWCS OF nwBfiiWEF5i you Tli iTMAKESHQ. Mil jwiRflQ. I BY TELEPHONE: 973-569-7104. The editorial page editor is available weekdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. BY FAX: 973-569-7129 BYE-MAIL: BY MAIL: Herald News 1 Garret Mountain Plaza P.O. Box 471 West Paterson, N.J. 07424-0471 The Herald News welcomes your comments on our editorials, articles, columns, cartoons and on any issue. Please address your comments to Letters to the Editor. Include your name, signature, address and daytime phone number so we can verify your letter. Letters should be no more than 250 words. They should be typed or block printed. Letters and articles may be edited and may be published, reproduced or distributed in print, electronic or other forms.

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