EDITOR’S NOTE—Today, the Daily Journal presents a sampling of editorials from around the state.
Surprise, conventions made it on three days
Evansville Courier & Press
Count us in favor of trimming conventions to only three days. In the end, the two-party system survived. The four-day political convention is not holy writ chiseled into courthouses everywhere. The three-day convention, it turns out, works just as well, arguably even better.
The Republican National Convention was shortened by happenstance when it seemed as if Hurricane Isaac might hit Tampa, Fla. Indeed, the city said it stood ready to cancel the convention if the storm did.
This is the party’s second unfortunate experience with hurricanes. The GOP’s 2008 gathering in landlocked St. Paul, Minn., was shortened out of solidarity with Gulf Coast residents threatened by Hurricane Gustav.
Again, the party suffered no apparent damage and, in fact, thanks to vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, pulled off quite a lively convention.
The Democrats shortened theirs by design. Monday was Labor Day, and conventions traditionally end on Thursday night. And, unlike the Republicans who had the possibility of contending with libertarian Rep. Ron Paul of Texas and his 160 delegates, the Democrats had no loose ends that might possibly mar their smoothly orchestrated affair.
Still, Democrats are Democrats, and they had to hold a contested voice vote on the convention floor to put God and Jerusalem back into the party’s platform. You have to marvel at a party that can get itself into fixes like that in an event where there were absolutely no issues.
Most of what the conventions do — adopt a platform and nominate presidential and vice presidential candidates — could easily be accomplished in a single evening. There is no evident support for a one- or even two-day convention, but support is growing for cutting them to three days.
House Speaker John Boehner, the presiding officer of the GOP convention, told The Associated Press, “Given as much news as people get today and the way they get their news, I’m not sure having a four-day convention in the future makes much sense.”
Shortening the conventions would also represent a major cost savings. The two parties estimated that their conventions cost approximately $120 million apiece.
Three-day political conventions in mid-August seem like an idea whose time has come.
Principals should be leaders, not bureaucrats
The Times (Munster)
An education revolution is under way in Indiana, one that affects not just student performance but the entire delivery process for education. These changes will require adjustment throughout the system.
The next reform is to base teacher salaries on their performance. The implementation of merit pay means teachers rated “ineffective” or “improvement necessary” won’t see raises, while teachers rated “effective” or “highly effective” will be rewarded.
Implementation of this process will be time-consuming. Teachers should be judged not just on their children’s test scores but also on how well the teachers themselves perform in the classroom — how they manage their children’s behavior, how they work with children one on one, how they explain the concepts children are to learn, and more.
As Indiana begins to implement performance-based pay, principals will need to devote more time to performing those evaluations.
This is, of course, what leadership is all about. Principals are supposed to help create the right climate for learning in their schools. That includes knowing what the teachers are doing in their classrooms and, where necessary, making suggestions for improvements.
Superintendents and school boards must recognize this responsibility and encourage principals to embrace this new role. After all, teachers need feedback if they are to improve, along with encouragement when they’re already at the top of their game.
There are other responsibilities principals must attend to, including disciplinary issues for individual students, filling out necessary reports and orders, and strategic planning. There’s a lot of paperwork involved in running a school.
But priorities must be set. Principals should be encouraged to spend more time improving the instruction in their schools instead of paperwork and other bureaucratic hassles.
Privatization of lottery cause for pause
The Journal Gazette (Fort Wayne)
Despite the Daniels administration’s proclivity toward privatization and its desire to bring in more revenue outside taxes, the administration should carefully reconsider going forward with hiring a private company to run the Hoosier Lottery.
Two of the four companies that submitted proposals decided to withdraw them. One, Camelot Global Services, said the state’s plan “strongly incentivizes all bidders to propose artificially high income targets.”
Even worse, the company said the plan did not adequately protect the state if revenue falls short. This is an experienced lottery company that runs the United Kingdom’s national lottery as well as lotteries in Australia.
The second company simply said “the final model did not work for us.”
One of the remaining bidders beat Camelot for a contract for Illinois — and fell well short of revenue expectations the first year, placing the company and the state of Illinois in arbitration.
Hoosiers and their elected leaders must not lose sight of this issue: To increase revenue, the contractor has to sell more tickets, and the only real way to do that is to entice more Hoosiers to buy more tickets. Does the state really want to encourage more people to lose money gambling?
State law currently requires “that lottery game advertising and promotion shall be consistent with the dignity and integrity of the state.” Will that part of the law be removed?