Editorial voices from around the U.S.
Editorial voices from around the United States as compiled by the Associated Press:
A few years ago, Head Start was looking for parents who would enroll their children; the centers had more slots open than kids to fill them. Let’s hope that this year, the even more unfortunate opposite won’t be true.
In Stark County, as elsewhere, the Head Start preschool program is another victim of the dull ax known as sequestration. The poorly fashioned political compromise that led Congress and President Obama to agree to the one-size-fits-all budget cuts has claimed many victims, but we doubt any cuts are more penny-wise and pound-foolish than this one.
Studies show the critical impact of early-childhood education – and the lack of it – on children’s academic and career success. Head Start helps to give preschool children the resources to overcome an impoverished environment and catch up with their peers socially and academically.
Parents who enroll their children in Head Start are conscientiously trying to close this gap. They should have the community’s support.
After all, it’s the community that is hurt, along with disadvantaged individuals and their families, when children fall though the cracks of the social safety net.
Last year’s across-the-board budget cut was a crazy scheme by Congress to hold a gun to its own head to finally deal with federal budget deficits. But the deadline came and went with no action on long-term spending reforms. The result was indiscriminate cuts that unnecessarily crippled some vital federal services.
Indeed, Congress had to restore funds for the Federal Aviation Administration to assure functioning air traffic control towers and for the USDA to keep meat inspectors on the job so meatpacking plants would not shut down. No such exemption has been granted for the branch of government that protects the legal and constitutional rights of all Americans. But it should be.
The federal courts’ total budget of just under $7 billion is just two-tenths of 1 percent of the federal budget. That is hardly a significant contribution to the deficit. The cuts are having a direct effect on the ability of the nation’s 663 federal judges to deliver justice in a timely manner.
Courts can’t control their workload, however. That’s dictated by how many civil suits are filed by parties who have a right to expect the courthouse will be open for business.
It is a failure of political leadership to make cuts across the board that penalize essential services on par with expendable ones. The federal courts are not expendable, and Congress should make sure they are fully funded.
Congress clearly has seen the need for the 1965 Voting Rights Act that guarantees all Americans access to the ballot box. In 2006, it extended the law for another 25 years, with the Senate voting 98-0 and the House 390-93.
But in June, the John Roberts Supreme Court decided 5-4 that the bad old days of voter intimidation were a thing of the past. It lifted the need for federal pre-clearance to change voting laws, a condition in 15 jurisdictions, most of them Southern states.
It took barely a week for North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature to prove them wrong. The lawmakers proved that voter suppression, once accomplished by beatings, fire bombings and job loss, hasn’t gone away. It has become more sophisticated.
Voters now must present state-issued photo IDs. Only four forms are considered valid – driver’s licenses, passports, veteran’s IDs and tribal membership cards – obtained or updated at least 25 days ahead of the election.
The irony is that the voter ID law attacks a problem – voter fraud – that doesn’t really exist. The Associated Press says only a “handful” of in-person voter fraud cases have been prosecuted in the last decade.
Drafters of the 1965 federal law surely didn’t have North Carolina specifically in mind, but they were certainly prescient in foreseeing states’ attempts to disenfranchise voters, mostly minorities, “through unremitting and ingenious defiance of the Constitution.”