Komen controversy can't, won't stop progress
THUMBS UP: This Thumbs Up is for everyone who continues to be a part of the fight against breast cancer as the media frenzy continues to swirl around the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation's decision last week to cut hundreds of thousands of dollars in funding for Planned Parenthood affiliates - a decision it quickly reversed. You have probably formed your own opinion by now on Planned Parenthood and Komen, a foundation that has been blasted by media and one that limped away from the upheaval with a self-inflicted black eye. But, like all other news stories, this, too, shall fade and we must continue to look at Komen and all the good it does for cancer survivors. Go ahead and pass judgement on the organization, but whether you are pro-choice or anti-abortion, don't let it blind you to all the good Komen has done for so many. Think what you will of Planned Parenthood, but don't let those opinions infringe on what you think of Komen - its long, dedicated battle against breast cancer is too important for anyone to lose sight of. Susan G. Komen for the Cure has been the leader in the fight against breast cancer in the U.S. for more than 30 years and will continue to be. That's a story that should never be forgotten.
A nice change in the GOP race
THUMBS UP: Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum has provided a refreshing jolt to the race for the Republican presidential nomination. He's got a steep hill to climb to overcome Mitt Romney and is still considered a dark horse, but his three-state sweep Tuesday put him back in the game and gave followers of this race something to latch onto after months of political mud-slinging between Romney and Newt Gingrich. Before Tuesday, the race had been dominated by accusations and denials between the two leading candidates; the two have spent so much time going back and forth against each other it became difficult to remember what they stand for. The more time they spent attacking each other, the less they talked about why they're the right choice to face off against President Barack Obama. Santorum's big night not only made him a player again, it gave party followers a break from a tit-for-tat tussle between Romney and Gingrich that, in all honesty, was growing old.
Breaking away from NCLB
THUMBS UP: Minnesota, along with nine other states got the No Child Left Behind shackles removed Thursday, leaving in the dust a forgettable chapter in education policy. The law required all schools to be proficient in reading and math by 2014 or be penalized. Not only was this law unrealistic, it wasn't even fair. Schools that didn't achieve efficiency were labeled as failures, never mind the fact that so many schools, including those in Minnesota, have enough diversity to present unique challenges that make reaching that proficiency target next to impossible. Does that make them failures? We say no. Without NCLB hovering over their heads, these schools will now have more flexibility, more local control, when it comes to how they spend their federal dollars. In order to receive the waiver, each state was charged with coming up with a new system to educating their students; Adequate Yearly Progress will still be tracked as part of the learning equation but Minnesota's plan would put Title I schools in one of several categories - the top 15 percent would be designated as "reward schools," while the bottom 5 percent would be designated "priority schools." Ten percent of schools contributing to the achievement gap would be designated "focus schools." The goal for the new system would be to reduce the achievement gap in Minnesota by 50 percent in six years. We think that's more reasonable and, more importantly, more fair than NCLB - the real failure in this mess.
Another stadium snag
THUMBS DOWN: There seems to be another disappointing bump in the road in the ongoing pursuit of a new Vikings stadium. Not only has a site not been nailed down yet, not only has there been no concrete funding solution for the state's share of the proposed $1 billion stadium, now an analysis shows that the city of Minneapolis has come up about 20 percent short of funds for its financial pledge. The analysis shows that sales tax revenues proposed by the city's mayor will fall about $50 million short of the $313 million target. We don't know for sure yet how that gap would be filled, but it could ultimately fall on city property taxpayers, who surely wouldn't be happy about the prospect, meaning this could get dragged out even more in the future. Good grief.