Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette on state school superintendent firing:
What kind of secret backstabbing happened at the state Board of Education? Did loyalists of Sen. Joe Manchin conspire clandestinely to dump state school superintendent Jorea Marple — a week after her husband, Darrell McGraw, lost re-election as West Virginia's attorney general?
The West Virginia Education Association expressed outrage, saying:
"WVEA is appalled at the actions of the Manchin appointees on the state Board of Education. ... Actions of the BOE appear to be politically motivated, and that is a shame. ... The Manchin appointees clearly have an agenda of their own and it is not necessarily in the best interest of students. A lifelong educator who is acknowledged by her peers has been let go by a group of people who have little if any knowledge about teaching or public education."
At the board's first meeting after the election, the printed agenda contained no mention of the superintendent's status. But five members voted to go into secret session, then came out and fired Marple on the spot, immediately — without explanation.
Marple told the five "you have a duty to provide me with cause" — but only bureaucratic drivel ensued. The board issued a statement praising Marple, but saying "this is a time for a change in direction." It didn't cite anything wrong with the previous direction.
The five who committed this abomination were Manchin's wife, Gayle, plus Wade Linger, Bill White, Bob Dunlevy and Mike Green.
In protest, the board's two other members, Priscilla Haden and Jenny Phillips, plan to resign.
West Virginians deserve a full explanation of this disgusting development. Marple is renowned as a champion of high-quality education. ...
This sudden dismissal of an acclaimed superintendent is a jolt to West Virginia. The public deserves to know why it was done. Education committees of the Legislature should launch an investigation. West Virginians need answers.
The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W. Va., on synthetic drug control:
It is not easy to catch dealers selling illicit drugs on the black market.
Trying to limit the use of pain pills to those who actually have a prescription and legitimate need is a challenge, too.
But the sale of "synthetic drugs" seems like it should be easier to stop.
After all, these dangerous concoctions are typically sold over the counter in shiny wrappers like candy bars. It is not hard to see what is going on, but crafting the laws to help states shut down these sales has proven difficult.
In most cases, these chemicals are marketed as bath salts, herbal incense or some other product, marketed under names such as "Ninja," ''Bizarro" or "Vanilla Sky," or even with Disney characters, The Associated Press reported.
However, they are formulated to mimic the effects of marijuana, cocaine or meth.
About 30 states, including West Virginia and Ohio, have passed laws outlawing synthetic drugs, and this summer President Barack Obama signed federal legislation that included provisions to ban ingredients such as 2C-E, a synthetic hallucinogen often found in these products.
But crafty chemists continue to quickly alter the compounds, hoping to stay one step ahead of the law. So, states are trying new approaches. ...
In West Virginia, the Attorney General's office filed suit against a major supplier of synthetic drugs, charging the company was deceiving consumers by claiming the products were legal or harmless.
"Cutting off the supply of these illicit substances at the source is central to ending this debilitating menace," Attorney General Darrell McGraw said in a statement this summer.
Synthetic drugs already have been shown to be just as dangerous as the real thing — and the effects can be even more unpredictable, especially with the ever-changing formulations.
We applaud the new strategies aimed at keeping these drugs out of circulation.
The Inter-Mountain, Elkins, W.Va., on antibiotics pose problems:
When West Virginians talk about the state's drug problem, the focus often is on heroin, marijuana, prescription painkillers, "bath salts" and similar substances. But antibiotics? What's wrong with pharmaceuticals many people view as miracle drugs?
Plenty, if they are overused - and Mountain State residents may be doing just that.
A study by the nonprofit Robert Wood Johnson Foundation indicates West Virginians use antibiotics at a much higher rate than most other Americans. In 2010, there were 1,178 antibiotic prescriptions filled for every 1,000 residents of the state. That is the second highest rate of use in the country.
What is problematic about use of antibiotics is that when overused, they can result in germs that are resistant to drug treatment.
The health care community's response to disease-causing microbes that develop resistance to some antibiotics has been to develop new ones. There is some concern that strategy will not work forever.
State health officials should look into West Virginians' use of antibiotics. This is one situation in which a large federal research grant would be appropriate, to determine whether our use of antibiotics is so high it is contributing to the problem of drug-resistant germs — and if so, what can be done to alleviate the problem.