The Journal Gazette, Fort Wayne. June 16, 2014.
Gun lust costing us freedom
The other day, it almost seemed plausible that the National Rifle Association had come to its senses.
The association issued a news release denouncing the Open Carry folks in Texas, saying their insistence on displaying semi-automatic weapons in a restaurant was not only unwise but "weird."
Of course, after the Open Carry people protested, an NRA official hastily announced that the posting had been a mistake.
There have been times and places when people had to be conspicuously armed when they went about their day-to-day activities: areas of Asia and Africa torn by civil or tribal warfare; parts of the American frontier in the 18th and 19th centuries; and jungle settlements when rogue animals with a taste for human flesh are on the prowl nearby.
Future historians will be puzzled why what was once one of the most technologically advanced, enlightened societies in history aspired to ascend to such a high level of everyday wariness.
They will marvel at how virtually unlimited access to and display of firearms was pushed upon a reluctant majority by a relatively tiny group of particularly vocal and politically organized zealots.
They will find it particularly ironic that the unlimited-guns advocates so effectively used the concept of "freedom" to justify their cause.
As the future historians will see - as anyone who lived in one of those other places or times when guns were truly an essential part of daily life could have told us - no one is less free than a man, woman or child who must live in constant fear of death.
Tribune-Star, Terre Haute. June 14, 2014.
Enticing more students back to campus a worthwhile initiative
Of all of the educational initiatives paraded before Indiana residents in recent years — some ideas worthy, others flops — none seems more timely or more on point than one approved by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education last week.
The program is called Return and Complete — which is also a shorthand description of what it entails: Citizens who have started but not completed their college degrees return to classes and complete their degrees. The result is that those citizens can gain higher earning potentials and see their career opportunities widen. Plus, those who can return to finish their degrees can simply feel a greater sense of accomplishment, of reaching a goal, of beating the odds. That unquantifiable spirit is a powerful incentive.
In approving that program when it met at Indiana State University for its monthly meeting, the commission opened the door, for at least a limited time, for the 750,000 people in Indiana who have done some work toward a degree but who still need to finish.
For some reason — or combination of reasons — those people quit their pursuit of degrees. It could have been lack of funds, the wrong major, lack of readiness, disillusionment about the worth of a degree, family problems or complications from balancing college with work. Or more than one of the above.
Whatever the cause, many of those people would appreciate a do-over. Many are now more motivated, more aware of the value of the four-year degree, not only in dollars but in the sense of becoming employed at a level matching their brain power.
To its credit, Indiana University-Purdue University at Fort Wayne, a burgeoning branch campus of IUPUI, is ahead of the game. Those who return to classes and meet requirements can get half off on tuition while they stay in school and make progress toward a degree.
Other campuses — including the Wabash Valley's two state institutions, ISU and Ivy Tech — would do well to emulate IPFW's initiative and offer discounted tuition and fees to entice these students back to their classes.
It is exactly the kind of community outreach that would enhance any university's résumé.
Much has been made in recent months about the skills gap — that margin between the education of Indiana's workforce and the needs of employers in an increasingly technical and specialized world of work.
This idea also offers a way to cut that gap by supplying thousands more Hoosiers with four-year degrees and the knowledge and skill sets that go with them.
By Oct. 1, 2015, Indiana's colleges and universities are to have worked agreements among each other on such issues of transfer of credits and to develop financial incentives.
Then, by the beginning of January 2016, lapsed students who meet the program's criteria will be contacted.
And not long after that, we hope, students can begin to return . and then to complete.
South Bend Tribune. June 13, 2014.
Better college preparation everyone's concern
A college readiness report released Tuesday by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education shows one-third of Hoosier students enrolled in public colleges need remediation in math and English.
Statewide, 38 percent of the Class of 2012 was not college-ready.
And those who are ill-prepared create a significant economic impact on Hoosier taxpayers.
The total annual cost of remediation for Hoosier students and taxpayers is estimated at $78 million, including tuition funding, financial aid and state subsidies. ..
More must be done to ensure that high school seniors who choose to pursue a college degree are adequately prepared when they get there.
The first duty of state-supported schools is to educate the college-ready student. College is not the time to be teaching lessons that should have been learned before high school graduation.
Preparing students for college is not just a problem here, it's a national issue. A January editorial in the Kokomo Tribune said more than 1.7 million college freshmen across the U.S. take remedial courses each year.
There also are ways to address the remediation burden under which colleges have struggled. One is to toughen high school standards.
Our communities cannot afford for smart kids to fail in college just because they aren't ready. School systems need to offer more rigorous college prep courses and make good use of public university support. We can't afford to fail.
The Tribune, Seymour. June 13, 2014.
Concussions will continue to be issue
The Indiana University School of Medicine will help oversee a three-year concussion study being funded by the Indianapolis-based NCAA and the U.S. Defense Department.
The Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium will involve athletes from as many as 30 universities. It will be led by IU's School of Medicine in collaboration with the University of Michigan and the Medical College of Wisconsin.
Psychiatry Department chairman Thomas McAllister will lead the research project's administrative and operations center at the IU School of Medicine.
Initially, data will be collected from about 7,200 athletes at 12 colleges, growing to about 37,000 athletes at 30 schools.
While most people associate concussions with football and hockey, those are not the only sports where they occur.
A study by researchers in Boston and Columbus, Ohio, showed there is a risk in several youth sports. The study found an incidence rate of 76.8 concussions per 1,000 participants in football and 61.9 in hockey.
But the researchers also found rates of 46.6 in boys lacrosse, 33 in girls soccer, 31 in girls lacrosse, about 24.9 in field hockey, 23.9 in wrestling, 21.2 in boys basketball, 19.2 in boys soccer and 18.6 in girls basketball.
For parents, there is a need for clear information about both the risks and treatment of concussion.
The IU study will add a needed complement to the study of youth sports. But statistics will carry us only so far. The research needs to be followed up with concrete recommendations that parents and coaches can put into practice to protect and treat young athletes.
Indiana has statewide standards on handling concussions in youth sports that spell out when a young player can return to competition. Football coaches are required to undergo training in concussion recognition.
Locally, high school coaches and athletics directors have taken steps to help protect against concussions and ensure that coaches know what to look for among their student-athletes.
Coaches at all levels and in all sports should be trained to recognize symptoms, so that youngsters can be pulled from the field or court as soon as possible.
Repeated concussions have a long-term negative effect on cognitive development. The more informed coaches and parents are, the better they will be able to weigh potential risks.