Joint Discussions

Gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur earned some political buzz last week when she announced that if she becomes governor in next November’s elections, she’ll try to legalize marijuana in Maryland. She proposes that the state regulate it and tax it, much like the state regulates and taxes alcohol. She estimated a pot tax would boost state coffers by some $157.5 million, an oddly exact figure. (Gazette)

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Feeding the Hungry

As we gather around the table with family and friends to give thanks for the blessing of good food and drink, it's fitting we also remember those forced to live with hunger. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there are more than 720,00 people in Maryland who are considered to be "food insecure," the official designation for those who are uncertain as to where their next meal is coming from. Many were once donors to groups like the Maryland Food Bank, a private nonprofit group that distributes food year round to needy families in the region, but now find themselves unable to put food on the table without help. And their numbers are likely to grow if Congress adopts a House Republican plan by to cut the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, by some $40 billion over the next decade. (Balt. Sun)

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A Widening Ring of Corruption

The federal indictments handed down last week against 14 more corrections officers at the Baltimore City Detention Center in a massive jail scandal reinforce questions about whether officials have yet done enough to root out corruption at the facility. The latest indictments come on top of the 13 employees charged in April when the scandal broke and suggest that the wrongdoing there was even more widespread than initially reported. What's still unclear is how far up the chain of command the rot extended and whether all those who bear any responsibility for this mess have been called to account for crimes that apparently went on for years right under their noses. (Balt. Sun)

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Nov. 27 // NAEP Test Scores*

There appears to be a fair amount of confusion and skepticism in the public mind surrounding educational “assessment” in general. What do all these tests really measure? What is the significance of rankings? Are schools too focused on “teaching to the test”? Now we learn that Maryland’s scores and national placement on the 2013 NAEP test are skewed. The reasons why raise a few questions about both this national test and reading education in Maryland. (News-Post)

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Harford County Board of Education President Reynolds: “…We Can No Longer Maintain Our Current Level of Services with the Funding Provided”

Throughout the economic downturn, the school system has been reducing the budget by making cuts that have had minimal impact to the classroom until this year. As referenced by the impact of the critical decisions we had to make this year, we have arrived at a point where we can no longer maintain our current level of services with the funding provided. Since fiscal year 2009, the school system has eliminated 240 positions while enrollment has only decreased an average of 154 students per year (or a total of 769 students). This may seem inconsequential to some but the fact remains that while the number of students may have slightly decreased, the needs of our students and the demands for accountability from the state and federal government has increased and continues to increase each year regardless of funding. (Dagger)

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Dedicated County Residents Reach Out To Homeless

As long as we are tallying things to be grateful for this season, the community should give thanks for neighbors who have spent so much time trying to organize help for the homeless – even to the extent of traipsing through the woods on a frosty autumn night to find them. As we reported Sunday, volunteers last week went out searching three times in the pre-dawn hours. They ultimately found 227 people in woods and shelters; 212 answered survey questions. One objective was to locate the 55 most vulnerable members of this submerged population and find them homes within the year. (Capital)

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Tom Zirpoli: War On Education Continues

Are educators with graduate degrees better teachers than those with an undergraduate degree? I believe that more knowledge about the subject you are teaching, along with more skills in how to teach effectively, helps make most, if not all, teachers stronger in the classroom. I also believe that teachers who invest the time, energy and money to expand their education should be compensated for their additional qualifications. We do this in most other professional fields, and teaching should not be any different. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Be Safe In Your Travels

Fewer people are projected to be traveling this Thanksgiving holiday period, but motorists still need to exercise care and caution to ensure they make it to and from their destinations safely. The weather is likely to play a factor if your plans call for you leaving today. It is always good to check out the weather report prior to departing, not only for here, but also in areas you may be traveling through or to and, if need be, adjust your plans accordingly. (Carr. Co. Times)

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