YAY: EARLY LEARNING
Fifth-graders who participated in a state-sponsored early learning program when they were three and four years old fared better than their peers in math and reading scores, according to a recently completed report to the Legislature. The report adds to the growing collection of evidence that early learning programs can make a big difference in student achievement.
As lawmakers tackle the difficult task of fully funding K-12 education, they must continue to invest in early learning programs, too. Kids don’t just start learning when they enter the public school system. Learning in earnest starts in infancy and needs to be supported.
BOO: PARTISAN COURT
Think of this bill as a poke in the eye of our state Supreme Court justices: Nineteen Republican? state representatives have sponsored a measure that would turn judicial positions on the state’s high court into partisan races. House Bill 1051 doesn’t deserve a hearing in a 2015 Legislature that has more pressing issues to resolve, such as adequate funding for public education and better care for people with severe mental illness.
The bill is nothing more than a jab at the judges for telling lawmakers they haven’t been meeting their constitutional duty to fund education. Let’s keep partisan politics out of the courts.
YAY: SENIOR SERVICES
Senior Services of South Sound provides a variety of programs that benefit thousands of senior citizens in Thurston and Mason counties. One of the programs provides lunches at community centers and in the residences of homebound seniors. While the meals are free, some of the seniors pay for them, and all enjoy the chance to socialize.
The program needs an infusion of cash to serve more people who are on the program waiting list. Anyone looking for a worthy cause to donate to in the new year should consider Senior Services of South Sound.
BOO: RAILROAD EXECUTIVES
American freight trains in the years after World War 11 often had crews of seven, including an engineer, conductor, brakemen and a firemen. With advances in technology, train crews were reduced to five in the 1970s, then down to just an engineer and conductor in 1991. Now comes word that railroad executives want to pare down the work force to just one person, an engineer, per train.
In an era when cargo trains are getting longer, and carrying such volatile cargo as oil, this sounds like a terrible idea.
YAY: TAX BREAK
The Lacey City Council has approved an ordinance to give multi-family housing in the city’s Woodland District a property tax exemption to help spur development in the city’s most promising mixed-use district.
One of the goals is to convert some of the empty office space in the Woodland District into market rate housing, something that’s lacking in what many envision as the city’s downtown center. If the tax exemption stimulates housing and economic activity, it could help create the feel of a city center, something Lacey has never really had.
DARN: COMFORT FOOD
The emotional healing power of comfort food is overrated, according to a study just published in the journal Health Psychology. Researchers at the University of Minnesota found that someone’s mood is likely to bounce back, even without eating their favorite comfort food. We’re holding out for the next study, which will surely find that this one is seriously flawed.