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Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
The Anniston (Ala.) Star on state senator's crusade against children's book:
Literary censorship is a serious matter.
When anyone takes it upon themselves to decide what someone should — or should not — read, the censor's motives and qualifications should be clear to everyone.
The state of Alabama has had censors in the past.
In the 1950s, a segregationist state senator attempted to ban from Alabama libraries a children's book, The Rabbits' Wedding, because a white rabbit was marrying a black rabbit.
Motive and qualifications were up front.
A few years ago, another state politician's statement that certain books should be taken off the shelves caused some to suggest that our state should be renamed "Talibama."
State Sen. Bill Holtzclaw, R-Madison, now has announced that he can "see no value or purpose . educational or otherwise" in Toni Morrison's 1971 novel, The Bluest Eye. Therefore, Alabama school Superintendent Tommy Bice and the state Board of Education should remove the book from the list of "national exemplars for teaching literary concepts" to 11th graders, the senator believes.
Holtzclaw did not seek the book out himself. ...
Holtzclaw said his intent was to get the state to "direct and control its own curriculum without out-of-state influence."
Yes, Holtzclaw is protecting "us" from "them." He is sending a message to those he feels are trying to impose a national reading list on us — you can't.
The fact that teachers are not required to adopt and teach The Bluest Eye seems to make little difference to the senator, anymore than the fact that many of the "highly objectionable" themes — racism, incest and child molestation — can be found in the Bible, the works of Shakespeare, Mark Twain and Alabama's most-loved novel, To Kill a Mockingbird.
The education of our children is important. Parents should know what our children read and why they read it. ...
The world would be even better if politicians would read the books instead of reviewing excerpts passed along to them for reasons that have little to do with education and a lot to do with politics.
Who should parents and the public trust to decide what books should be recommended for literary concepts — educators who have read the books or politicians who have "reviewed excerpts?"
The Decatur (Ala.) Daily on the GOP's future path:
Many have seen the future of the Republican Party, and it poses a serious challenge for the GOP's old guard, especially in states such as Alabama.
The future is people such as Stephanie Petelos, a University of Alabama student, president of the state's College Republican Federation and, by virtue of that office, a member of the state's Republican steering committee.
She remains on the steering committee after a failed attempt to remove her for not following the party line opposing gay marriage, which she appeared to endorse in a June interview.
Petelos acknowledged the obvious: Younger voters, including young Republicans, are much more likely to support gay marriage. Like it or not, it's a generational sea change, and one that already is having an impact throughout the country, as a slim majority of Americans favors marriage equality.
Petelos' tacit admission of the electoral realities facing the Republican Party was too much for some in the state GOP's leadership, who increasingly tolerate no dissent, whether on immigration or abortion or marriage. ...
The committee then reaffirmed its opposition to gay marriage, just so no one gets the wrong idea.
This was a preliminary skirmish. Other battles within the GOP are coming, and gay marriage is one of them as young Republicans, who increasingly take more libertarian attitudes toward social issues, rise through the party's ranks.
This could be an especially painful process for Republicans in the South, as Petelos' experience demonstrates. Republicans could well be on their way to replaying the same sort of regional split that rocked the Democratic Party in the 1960s.
The civil rights movement split Democrats and ultimately turned a Democratic "solid South" into a Republican solid South. Like the Democrats before them, Republicans now risk becoming a regional party, dominating the South but nearly extinct elsewhere.
We know what the future looks like. The question is, will the GOP embrace it or run away?
The Gadsden (Ala.) Times on school districts, students rejecting healthier lunches:
Who turns down free money? Some school districts across the United States are, with a rousing "Enough!" to the National School Lunch Program and its new emphasis on healthier fare.
The NSLP spends $11 billion a year on reimbursing schools for meals served and giving them access to lower-priced food.
Two years ago, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that allowed the U.S. Agriculture Department to set new nutritional standards for those subsidized lunches.
Those standards require more fruits, vegetables and whole grains; less protein, fat and sugar; and impose strict calorie limits (850 calories a meal for high school students).
The idea is to combat surging childhood obesity rates, and we've said many times that's a worthy goal.
The problem is, students are voting with their palates (by dumping the food in the garbage) and their wallets (by either not buying lunch or packing more satisfying meals from home). It's put school lunchrooms in the red, by as much as $100,000 in one New York district, to the point there's no advantage to taking the federal subsidy.
These are isolated cases. Most school systems can't afford to say "no" to the federal largesse, and the strings it carries.
We're sure those who are pushing healthier school lunches — first lady Michelle Obama has been the most visible advocate — would say, "Who's running things here: the kids or the adults? It's good for them, and they'll get used to it."
Maybe so. ..
Healthy doesn't have to mean tasteless or unappetizing. Kids are never going to view food as mere body fuel; the experience of eating has to be enjoyable for them. Calorie limits shouldn't be one-size-fits-all (850 calories might be fine for teenagers whose only exercise is pressing a game controller, but there are plenty of teens who'll burn that off in an hour).
Come up with standards that accept those realities. The garbage cans won't be as full, and the goal of healthier kids still can be achieved.