Short takes on the news
Who's callous and wrong? • If the federal Department of Interior is, as Rep. Rob Bishop says, "distasteful, callous and wrong" for opposing a West Davis Corridor highway route that would destroy fragile wetlands, then we have to assume Bishop also believes a good number of his constituents also fit that description. Because the best alternative route for the highway, as residents, Farmington City and conservationists have pointed out, is no highway at all. Several groups, including some Davis County residents most affected by a new four-lane highway, rightly argue that better public transit, expansion of existing east-west streets and zoning to encourage self-sustaining neighborhoods would eliminate the eventual need for the highway, which by its very existence will encourage more traffic and worse air pollution. Bishop says the federal agency's concern means it is willing to sacrifice homes and businesses in favor of wetlands. But the alternative of no highway would eliminate the destruction of homes and businesses that would be inevitable if a highway were built on any of the proposed routes.
The next step • The Utah Legislature has taken one step toward improving education for at-risk students. It has instituted a school grading system that has already identified schools where teachers and students need extra help. The next, and most important, step is for legislators to provide the resources that means money to allow those schools to address the problems. One solution, explained by Salt Lake City School District Superintendent McKell Withers, is to make sure teachers in schools with large numbers of minority students, especially students who are still learning to speak English, get the training they need to help those kids succeed. Districts can't, as Senate President Wayne Niederhauser said, simply move existing money around to entice highly trained teachers to schools that received Fs or Ds. They need additional funds to do that and continue with the basic programs. Providing more training to teachers already working in at-risk schools who have experience in that unique setting is the best answer. But that takes money. Not a shifting of allocations, but additional, on-going revenue.