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State of the Debate
George Pyle
George Pyle has been a newspaper writer in Kansas, Utah, Upstate New York, and now Utah again, for more than 30 years - most of it as an editorial writer and columnist. Now on his second tour of duty on The Salt Lake Tribune Editorial Board, he has also done a stretch as a talk radio host, published a book on the ongoing flaws of U.S.agricultural policy and, in 1998, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Editorial Writing. His most active bookmarks are Andrew Sullivan, Christopher Hitchens and Tina Brown. And he still thinks the Internet can be used for intelligent conversation and uplifting ideas.

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(Kim Raff | The Salt Lake Tribune) Granger High School construction in West Valley City on April 28, 2012.
Editorials: Fat (farm bill) and stupid (graduation rates) ...

- More graduates: Move 9th grade to high school - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

Granite School District is considering a proposal from the principal of Granger High School to move ninth grade students from middle school into the high school.

It’s a good idea, and other high schools that have not made the change already should put it into their plans for the not-too-distant future. ...

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... Getting a ninth-grader into the high school system could increase his chances of graduating. Students start down the dropout road long before 10th grade. Some drop out before ninth grade, but many make it at least that far. For some of those students, the counselors, faculty, older classmates and extracurriculur activities in high school might help keep them on the rolls. [Read the rest ...]

- Toward graduation, one teen at a time - Virginian Pilot Editorial

... There are as many reasons for dropping out and failing to finish on time as there are students. Some give up when faced with academic difficulty. Others get pulled into school disciplinary systems or the courts.

Some families pull students out of school to provide care for aging family members or younger siblings. Still other students leave to work to help support their family or their own children. Coaches described families whose indifference to education carries over from generation to generation. ...

- To raise graduation rates, invest in early education - Syracuse (N.Y.) Post-Standard Editorial

... If we wait until kids get to school, we’ve waited too long. ...

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- Malnutrition: House farm bill goes the wrong way - Salt Lake Tribune Editorial

Throughout human history, the image of a malnourished person is one of skin and bones. But so successful has the last half-century of American agricultural policy been in reversing this trend that, today, Americans suffer from an epidemic of bad food that is disguised under ever-deeper layers of fat.

Every five years or so, Congress labors to bring forth a new farm bill. It is a giant book of rules and regulations, policies and priorities that costs the taxpayers billions in the name of food security, but the safety net it provides serves mostly to protect those who least need the help. The result has been perverse incentives to flood the market with cheap cereal grains, mostly corn and wheat, that become the starchy, artificially sweetened, food-like substances that fill our grocers’ shelves and our school lunch trays.

Last month, the Senate approved a new farm bill that promises to cut federal spending on farm, conservation and nutrition programs by some $23 billion over the next decade. This week, the House is chiming in with a bill that promises savings of $35 billion over the same period.

Both bills, however, show far too little change in philosophy from decades of federal support for oversupplies of grains. Even though the Senate version would phase out many of the direct payment programs that fattened the bottom line of huge mechanized agribusiness over the years, it shifted most of the money into a crop insurance subsidy program that would not encourage any major change in the way food is produced, or who gets paid the most for it. [Read the rest ...]

- The rise of food stamp nation - Rich Lowry, National Review/Salt Lake Tribune

- Cuts to food assistance are too severe - Palm Beach (Fla.) Post Editorial

- Farm bill good for Minn., ND - Fargo (N.D.) Forum Editorial

- A Mediocre Farm Bill - New York Times Editorial

- Farm bill bulges in wrong places - Minneapolis Star-Tribune Editorial

- Farm bill amendment needs to stay - Des Moines Register

... The original bill brokered by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., and Pat Roberts, R-Kan., had another critical flaw: It would have eliminated linkage between taxpayer subsidies to farmers and compliance with conservation regulations. That would have serious consequences for soil and water quality in our most intensively farmed states, including Iowa. ...



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