Is a dance the best way to motivate students?

Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring last week held a dance during the final period of the school day for straight-A students, who were treated to pizza and a DJ. Students with B’s and C’s were allowed to join in when classes were over (by which time the pizza was gone); students with lower grades were not invited at all. Our view is that it’s good to celebrate academic achievement, just as trophies and letters reward athletic accomplishment, but that maybe a school dance — generally intended to foster social inclusion — wasn’t the best way to do that. (Wash. Post)

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Feb. 10 // New ideas for cutting city taxes

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has proposed a comprehensive 10-year financial plan to reduce costs, diversify revenue streams and cut property taxes. If all goes according to plan — and that's not certain, since a controversial trash pick-up fee that was part of the equation is now on indefinite hold — she'll knock 22 percent off of the property tax rate. The bad news is, if all goes according to plan, Baltimore's property tax rate will still be 62 percent higher than the rate in Baltimore County. That's why we welcome a package of property tax legislation introduced last week by Del. Maggie McIntosh and co-sponsored by nearly every member of the city's House delegation. (Balt. Sun)

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Alison Prost: Anne Arundel County will benefit from stormwater fee

If you live in Anne Arundel County there is a good chance your neighborhood will soon benefit from the county stormwater fee. By the same account, you will continue to endure flooded basements, closed swimming areas, and other problems if some state legislators get their way and block the county from collecting the fee. Construction is pending on $76 million worth of projects that will benefit dozens of communities around the county. All the projects — special landscaping and upgraded retention ponds and outfalls — will slow down, and treat, polluted runoff. All were funded by the stormwater fee. (Capital)

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George Michael: The effects of raising the minimum wage

Who could oppose raising the minimum wage? It’s nice to think about workers getting a 39 percent wage increase, especially those at the bottom of the economic ladder. But are there any downsides to providing such a benefit? One of the main downsides of raising the minimum wage is its impact on teenage unemployment, which is currently higher than 20 percent nationwide. The rate has actually been coming down due to the drop in the value of real wages over recent months. Raising the minimum wage will reverse this positive trend and make those inexperienced and unskilled teens even more unemployable. (Herald-Mail)

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Susan Olsen: Youth PROMISE can help in Wicomico County

Youth Prison Reduction through Opportunities, Mentoring, Intervention, Support and Education Act — has been reintroduced in Congress as HR 1318 and S 1307. This piece of legislation deserves your support. It will help Wicomico County, especially police agencies and after-school programs such as Stop the Violence, located in Salisbury’s Doverdale area. Scores of research has shown that we can do a more cost-effective job by addressing the root causes of violence to prevent crime. There are many approaches that can be used: mentoring, job training and after-school programs. (Daily Times)

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March and Zweig: GPOs fuel drug shortages

Maryland has been a pacesetter on some important health care issues like hospital cost control. But on one matter that is seriously impairing patient care — generic drug shortages — Marylanders are facing the same crisis as everyone else. For several years, our hospitals and outpatient surgery centers have been dealing with frequent shortages, and at times complete outages, of mainstay drugs that are often physicians' first choices for high quality care. All Marylanders have a personal stake in ending this public health emergency. (Balt. Sun)

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Wait for fracking report

A state Senate committee made the right move last week when it killed a bill that would have banned fracking in the state. Hydraulic fracturing has become a controversial topic in states where the practice is allowed. The methods employed to extract natural gas from shale rock have been blamed for polluting water supplies and environmental damage, among other things. Until the committee wraps up its investigation on fracking in Maryland and issues recommendations, however, it would be premature to institute a blanket ban on all fracking in the state. (Carr. Co. Times)

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Barry Rascovar: O’Malley’s latest pension grab

It takes quite a bit for the quiet, diplomatic State Treasurer, Nancy Kopp, to criticize her fellow Democrat, Gov. Martin O’Malley. But she gently laid it on the line in opposing O’Malley’s $100 million budget cut for state pension contributions. What Kopp didn’t say, but others are filling in the blanks, is that O’Malley’s action is a cold, calculated slap in the face of state workers. He is reneging on an agreement he made with them just a few years ago. The irony is that the very same “working families” O’Malley defends so passionately are the ones hurt most by his callous action. (Md. Reporter)

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