What others think in the U.S., elsewhere
Excerpts from recent editorials in newspapers in the United States and abroad as compiled by the Associated Press:
We like to say in the United States that we value education, but we seldom walk the walk to go with all that talk. Indeed, when the budget ax falls at the state or federal level, it’s not unusual to find a few kindergartners fearfully huddled around the chopping block, jumping with every whack.
Is that too graphic an image? Perhaps, but sometimes, it takes a little shock to get folks moving in the right direction.
That’s exactly the message we should glean from the recent release of the results from the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment. In the global exam given to about half a million 15-year-olds in 65 nations and educational systems, teens from Asia dominated while American students showed little improvement from 2009 and failed to reach the top 20 in math, science or reading.
Of course, news of the results has prompted a flurry of claims that we are falling behind the rest of the world. Solomon Friedberg, a professor of mathematics and chairman of the math department at Boston College, called the test results “appalling” in a recent opinion piece he wrote for The Los Angeles Times.
But improvement could begin happening soon as Common Core Standards start rolling out in most states in the nation, including Louisiana. Common Core, after all, is about raising the bar for our kids, for our nation, for our future.
That’s one action, we as Americans must demand.
First it was going to be in the spring of 2011. Then the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said November. That’s when they would convene a panel to consider a rule to protect workers from combustible dust and how any rules would affect small businesses. Now, OSHA says April 2014, maybe.
Unglamorous as it may be, controlling combustible dust, not just in coal mines, is a significant safety issue for workers across the country, whether workers realize it or not.
The Chemical Safety Board recommended that the federal government issue safety standards for general industry to prevent dust fires and explosions. The rule should be based on the National Fire Protection Association’s standards and cover hazard assessment, engineering controls, housekeeping, building design, explosion protection, operating procedures and worker training.
Of course, it’s hardly a surprise that this safety issue gets bumped down the Obama administration priority list. The president might expect a place so historically blue-collar as West Virginia would welcome efforts that protect workers, but he is probably not counting on it.
No one wants a rule that industry is unable to follow, or another death or injury from a preventable cause. That’s why OSHA should get this panel convened and sensible rules enacted.
The homecoming of the last of our Afghanistan combat troops by Christmas will gladden the hearts of all Australians.
In warmly welcoming them home there is a need to realize that though most foreign forces are now on their way out, the challenges presented by Afghanistan remain acute and that if there is not to be a recrudescence and takeover by Taliban and al-Qa’ida terrorism.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott has proudly pointed out that in our deployment’s area of particular responsibility, Oruzgan province, things have improved immeasurably. But the question remains whether such progress will be sustained after coalition forces leave. The role of coalition forces of between 8,000 and 12,000 soldiers who will remain after the end of 2014 will be crucial.
Such a deployment is imperative if the sacrifices made in Afghanistan, including 40 of our own Diggers who have been killed, together with hundreds more wounded, are not to have been in vain.