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Don’t mandate school calendars

February 7, 2012
Salem News

Too often, public school teachers and administrators are told by state legislature and Congress they simply must get better - and then they are informed of new rules that make it more difficult to do so.

One concern in most states is how many days children spend in public school classrooms. For various reasons, including inclement weather, many school systems don't meet state-mandated requirements for instructional days. An obvious answer to that, implemented in many states, is to provide more flexibility in setting school calendars.

Now a few Ohio legislators want to place a new restriction on school calendars. Public schools should not be permitted to open for the year before Labor Day, they say.

Their reasoning? Brace yourself: Keeping children out of school until Labor Day each summer might help Ohio's tourism industry, the lawmakers say. A longer summer vacation period could mean more dollars spent on tourism.

That is questionable.

Even if taking the step would mean a few additional dollars for tourist destinations, the tradeoff in potentially lost instructional days would be undesirable.

The lawmakers' suggestion is one more example of school reform being demanded even as educators' hands are tied with new mandates. That attitude has to end.

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An extremely unwelcome immigrant has come to Ohio. It is the hemlock wooly adelgid, a tiny creature that feeds on - and destroys - its namesake tree.

Wooly adelgids have been decimating hemlock forests for decades in eastern states. Entire stands of the trees, some majestic one-time lords of the forest that were centuries old, have been killed.

Now the bug has been found in Meigs County, Ohio, according to the state Department of Agriculture. Eight infested trees have been found. They will be cut down and burned in an attempt to keep the adelgid from spreading.

Unfortunately, that probably is a losing strategy in the long run, as we suspect state officials know. Efforts to stop the adelgid in its tracks have been unavailing for many years. Only a few methods of fighting them are available, and they are tree-by-tree, expensive treatments.

Ohioans should be pleased the Department of Agriculture is doing what it can to fight the adelgid - and should encourage the state to do all in its power, in cooperation with other states, the federal government and, perhaps, private industry, to beat the beast. Otherwise, it is only a matter of time until Buckeye State hemlocks are gone.

 
 

 

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