Excerpts of recent editorials of statewide and national interest from Ohio newspapers:
The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, Oct. 6
Ohio voters face an unappetizing choice this fall: Do they retain Ohio's long-standing procedures for drawing congressional and legislative districts after each census — procedures manipulated by rapacious Republicans last year as they sliced and diced communities to lock in control of what is really a 50-50 state?
Or do they opt for State Issue 2, a well-intentioned but overly complex effort at reform that purports to remove politics from the most political of democratic exercises — and yet may guarantee only prolonged litigation?
Supporters of Issue 2 allow that it's not perfect, but warn against making the perfect the enemy of the good. The real alternative, they say, is a bad system that keeps getting worse....
Issue 2, whose cumbersome mechanisms could invite lawsuits, would go into the Ohio Constitution — and amending that is, quite rightly, a difficult process.
So we urge a "no" vote on Issue 2.
But rejection must not end the discussion. Both parties in Columbus — but especially the Republicans who run the Statehouse — must use an upcoming constitutional review to develop a more open, more accountable and fair way to draw political lines.
Otherwise, we would expect the coalition behind Issue 2 to be back — with an even stronger argument.
The (Tiffin) Advertiser-Tribune, Oct. 3
Of course, the state system used to manage information about public schools throughout Ohio should be improved. If criticism by the state's largest school districts is accurate, the program needs a lot of work.
But let's not mix apples and oranges in looking at public school effectiveness data, especially given the fact some of the apples are rotten.
The Associated Press recently reported on complaints by the eight largest urban school districts in Ohio, regarding the Educational Management Information System. Concerns include "errors, delays, inconsistencies and a lack of training," the AP reports.
Many states have centralized education data systems such as Ohio's EMIS. And in some, a substantial number of bugs had to be worked out before the systems performed properly.
But the EMIS or something like it is important to educators, state policymakers, taxpayers and parents. It provides them a database of information about how schools, individually and in comparison to each other, are performing.
So, yes, the EMIS ought to be as error-free and easy to use as possible.
But the urban districts' complaints came amid a state investigation of school districts, including that in Columbus, knowingly submitting false reports on matters such as student attendance.
Rooting out liars among school administrators is more important than correcting glitches in the EMIS. Taxpayers' focus on that should not be diverted by gripes about the EMIS.
Akron Beacon Journal, Oct. 8
Election Day arrives in four weeks and one day. Now is the time to end the long argument in Ohio about early voting on the three days before Election Day. The state should embrace the ruling the federal appeals court delivered on Friday, essentially upholding the thinking of federal Judge Peter Economus. This voting option should be available to local boards of election, as it has been since legislature acted in 2005.
The history is worth recalling, as Economus and the appeals court emphasized. In the 2004 election, Ohio encountered severe problems, long lines at the polls, voters all but disenfranchised. In the aftermath, Republicans and Democrats crafted a reasoned response. They established no-fault absentee balloting, opening the way for early voting, including the three days before the election.
Their response worked. In 2008, roughly 1.7 million Ohioans voted early, as many as 100,000 on those final three days. The election proceeded smoothly, as it did in 2006 and 2010 (1 million voting early in the latter year)....
The ruling leaves the choice to local boards of elections about establishing early voting on the last three days. In view of Republican concerns for military personnel, this should be an easy call. Early voting on the last three days before Election Day should be as widely available as in elections of the recent past. The access helped solve a problem. It reinforces the importance of casting votes.
Warren Tribune Chronicle, Oct. 8
Earlier this year Gov. John Kasich informed officials of the state's 37 public colleges and universities the pool of money available for capital improvements is limited, at $350 million....
So the governor asked higher education officials to work together to write a priority list for state capital funding. Wonder of wonders, they were able to come up with a reasonable, coordinated proposal.
Now Kasich wants the higher education officials to do the same thing, in effect, for annual operating funds from the state. Instead of a formula reflecting primarily enrollment, he wants one that provides financial incentives for effectiveness.
Among guides to effectiveness favored by Kasich are graduation rates, student retention and whether colleges and universities are providing training that leads to good careers for graduates....
Some of the ivory tower mentality may not like the idea. Their definitions of effectiveness may differ from the governor's.
Fine. Assuming they can provide reasonable justifications for their ideas, there should be room for flexibility.
In the end, however, the governor is right. Ohioans simply cannot afford to spend $2.4 billion a year on higher education without knowing the money is doing some good for the state's economy and for students who attend public colleges and universities.