Thumbs up to Delta High faculty

December 31, 2012 

For carrying out the pledge to share lessons learned at the innovative school's science, technology, engineering and math programs.

Delta High principal Deidre Holmberg and teacher Jenny Rodriquez worked with teachers at Virgie Robinson and Emerson elementary schools in Pasco to develop a hands-on curriculum that integrates science, engineering and math with other subjects such as language arts and social studies.

Teachers and administrators at the schools say early results are promising. That's not surprising. Understanding how science and technology connects to our everyday lives is bound to make studies more meaningful.

"They are loving it," Kristie Gonzales, a fifth-grade science and math teacher at Robinson, told Herald reporter Ty Beaver. "It's eye-opening."

An education that opens eyes to new horizons is doing something right.

Quit stalling

Thumbs down to the U.S. Department of Transportation for repeatedly missing deadlines to issue congressionally mandated safety guidelines for car manufacturers.

A law approved by Congress and signed by President George W. Bush in 2008 calls for the agency to establish new manufacturing requirements to improve the visibility behind passenger vehicles to help prevent backing accidents.

An estimated 228 people die every year -- 110 of them children age 10 and under -- from injuries caused by vehicles that are backing up. Another 17,000 are injured. The driver is often the victim's parent and the accident scene the family driveway.

The proposed regulations call for expanding the field of view for cars, vans, SUVs and pickups so that drivers can see directly behind their vehicles when in reverse -- requiring, in most cases, rearview cameras and video displays as standard equipment.

The technology already is in use in many vehicles so it should be fairly straightforward to adopt some guidelines.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has estimated that making rear cameras standard on every car would add $58 to $88 to the price of vehicles already equipped with dashboard display screens and $159 to $203 for those without them.

That would add less than 1 percent to the average cost of a car in the U.S., which topped $30,000 this year.

"In a way, it's a death sentence, and for no good reason," former Public Citizen president Joan Claybrook told Associated Press reporter Lisa Leff.

True enough, unless you think saving 0.07 percent on your next car is a good reason to continue sacrificing more than a 100 children a year.

Think again

Thumbs down to Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, for proposing the nation's schools enter an arms race with lunatics.

A week after the murder of 20 children at a school in Connecticut, LaPierre announced he wants to address gun violence by having an armed police officer in every school in the country.

The vision of kindergartners dropping their Sesame Street lunch boxes onto a conveyor belt at the schoolhouse gate strikes us as Orwellian.

"Do we really want to live in a world of police checkpoints, surveillance cameras, metal detectors, X-ray scanners and warrantless physical searches?" Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, asked during an interview with Fox News.

"We see this culture in our airports: witness the shabby spectacle of once proud, happy Americans shuffling through long lines while uniformed TSA agents bark orders. This is the world of government provided 'security,' a world far too many Americans now seem to accept or even endorse," Paul said.

Paul makes a good point -- a federally mandated program to turn every school into an armed fortress is a frightening concept.

But some discussion about use of armed guards in schools shouldn't be off limits. They already exist in some schools, and a look at what works and what doesn't, what's appropriate and what isn't, is worth talking about.

At this stage, every idea for improving school safety ought to be up for discussion -- improving mental health care, strengthening families, reducing the media-driven glorification of violence, the role of religion in public life.

Even the possibility of new gun laws should be on the table.

We agree with the Supreme Court's finding that the right to bear arms guaranteed by the Second Amendment is an individual right. But some restrictions are reasonable and necessary. We don't want rocket launchers to be generally available, for example.

We're not sure new gun laws would work or pass constitutional muster. The sad truth is, more children will be murdered no matter what we do.

But that shouldn't stop us from trying to make them safer.

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