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West Virginia editorial roundup

October 29, 2013
Associated Press

Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:

Oct. 27

News and Sentinel, Parkersburg, W. Va., on control schools at the local level:

State Board of Education members agree West Virginians ought to have more local control over public schools. To that end, county school boards will have more latitude regarding when classes start and end each year.

But they'd better not hand out cupcakes.

Most of the time, local control over schools is good. State government should merely tell county boards of education what students are expected to achieve, then get out of the way. West Virginia residents should insist county educators do their jobs adequately.

Part of the education reform initiative approved earlier this year by the Legislature seems aimed at furthering that ideal. It allows the state board of education to give county boards more flexibility in when they begin and end classes each year, as long as they provide the required number of instructional days.

Earlier this month, state board members followed through by revising their official policy on the matter.

So far, then, so good. State officials appear to "get it."

Unfortunately, federal education bureaucrats do not.

Some teachers in Harrison County, W.Va., apparently thought it would be nice to hand out cupcakes to students around Halloween. They checked with their county superintendent, who consulted the state Department of Education.

No way, the teachers were told. A state official wrote that "federal regulations preclude us from relaxing the nutrition standards that are currently in place."

This is absurd. Handing out sweets to children once or twice a year isn't going to harm anyone.

But the rule is just one of literally thousands West Virginia educators have to follow, or face loss of federal school funding.

This needs to end. West Virginia's delegation in Congress should lead a campaign to end Uncle Sam's dictatorship over public schools.



Oct. 29

The Herald-Dispatch, Huntington, W. Va., on two positive steps taken to combat drug abuse:

Two developments occurred last week that should help in efforts to combat prescription drug abuse.

One will place tighter controls on an opioid painkiller that is often diverted for nonmedical uses. The other should give a clearer understanding about whether the amount of prescription drugs shipped to West Virginia is in line with what would be expected for the state's population or way beyond a reasonable level, as many people suspect.

One positive step came from the Food and Drug Administration, which said it will formally ask that hydrocodone be rescheduled as a Schedule II drug from its current Schedule III status. The result of that change would be to limit which kinds of medical professionals can write a prescription and how many times it can be refilled.

The action, if approved by other federal agencies, would put the same prescribing controls on hydrocodone that already in place for OxyContin. The abuse of both drugs has risen steadily in the last decade, contributing to addiction, related crime and high fatal overdose rates.

Both U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and state Delegate Don Perdue, retired pharmacist who leads the West Virginia House of Delegates' Health and Human Resources Committee, had lobbied for the change and lauded last week's FDA recommendation. ...

The other development last week was a ruling by Boone County Circuit Judge William Thompson that four pharmaceutical drug distributors must turn over records of shipments made to West Virginia pharmacies during the last five years.

Thompson's decision came in a lawsuit filed last year by former Attorney General Darrell McGraw that accused the companies of shipping excessive amounts of prescription painkiller to pharmacies in southern West Virginia. ...

Learning about those shipments will give a better picture of whether the volumes of drugs were reasonable for serving West Virginians or of such magnitude that the companies contributed significantly to the state's drug abuse problem. Either way, the pharmaceutical companies face more accountability, which is a step forward.



Oct. 24

Charleston (W. Va.) Gazette on U.S. spends too much on military:

West Virginia's two Republicans in Congress, Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and Rep. David McKinley, say they're eager for federal budget-cutting negotiations during the three-month Washington reprieve after the U.S. government shutdown (which Capito and McKinley helped cause).

Typically, the GOP notion of budget-cutting means trying to slash Social Security for retirees, college scholarships for teens, food stamps for the poor, Medicare for seniors, school lunches for pupils and other people-helping programs -- while giving bigger tax breaks to billionaires.

The shutdown perpetrated by Capito, McKinley and fellow House Republicans knocked $24 billion out of America's economy. Maybe a good start for budget negotiations would be a pledge never to inflict such damage again.

Meanwhile, here's our favorite way to reduce federal spending: Curtail the $1 trillion of taxpayer money that is poured into militarism yearly.

America is the world's most militaristic nation, spending more for arms that almost the rest of the planet combined. ...

Not long ago, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted that "the Pentagon now spends roughly twice as much as it did in 2001," counting horrendous costs of the Iraq and Afghan wars. Veteran costs and interest on past military spending done with borrowed money push the U.S. military total somewhere around $1 trillion annually.

The "sequester" previously imposed by Congress mandates $450 billion cuts to the Pentagon over the next decade. But we think U.S. militarism should be downsized more than $45 billion per year. A Center for International Policy analysis said economic security is more essential to America than military security is. ...

If Capito, McKinley and other Republicans in Congress genuinely want to reduce government spending -- and not merely slash the public "safety net" while favoring billionaires -- they should endorse a major downsizing of needless militarism.




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