Grading a bad law » A system for grading public schools in Utah on a scale of A, B, C, D and F is just another example of unneeded and confusing micromanaging of education by the Legislature. Even worse, it appears to be yet another opportunity for lawmakers to take a jab at school teachers and public education in general. After a bill requiring schools to be graded was passed in 2011, the State Office of Education, as bidden, created a system for evaluating all the schools in the Beehive State. Now SB271 mandates a separate method for how schools should be graded starting this year. The bill was passed hurriedly in the final days of the session — another bad example of policy made in haste. The State Board of Education voted 5-5 to refrain from asking Gov. Gary Herbert to veto SB271, but he should anyway.
Walking the walk » U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups has ruled in favor of Kane County on the issue of ownership of 12 routes on federal land. That’s a tiny portion of the more than 12,000 routes claimed by counties in Utah and supported by the state. Waddoups went the extra mile in coming to his decision, in which he threw out claims to three other routes. He traveled all of the disputed tracks with attorneys for both sides of a lawsuit over the routes. The action was based on a 1976 repeal of a Civil War-era law allowing local governments to manage roads on public lands. He heard testimony from county workers and residents who said the routes have been in continuous use since the 1960s. Each road claim being made by counties or the state should undergo such scrutiny, and no cow trail or creek bed should be allowed to be graded into a road, especially with the motivation to prevent wilderness designation.
Boosting the arts » Southern Utah University is closer than ever to realizing its goal of a new $30 million arts center to house arts education facilities, a new Shakespeare theater and production building for the Utah Shakespeare Festival and a new location for the Southern Utah Museum of Art. A $6 million gift from the Sorenson Legacy Foundation means the Cedar City university needs just $2 million more for the project. The center will be named for Beverley Taylor Sorenson, founder of the foundation that supports arts and arts education in Utah. The construction project will be the largest in the history of Iron County. The Shakespeare theater is expected to be in use for the 2015 season.
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