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Grim news about high school graduation rates

A recent study by the research center of Editorial Projects in Education carried profoundly disappointing news about the state of American public education.

It found that only 70 percent of the nation's public high school students graduate on time – a number far below any previous estimate, and significantly worse than most states contend is their graduation rate. In Illinois, for example, the state claims an 87 percent graduation rate. But the EPE study, supported by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, says the figure is closer to 76 percent. Illinois is not alone in overstating its graduation rates, the study said. Nearly every state did, according to the study.


Another reason to end the earmarking process

Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert lives in Kendall County which, according to the Census Bureau, is the third-fastest growing county in the United States. And when counties grow rapidly, there are usually economic consequences, including an increase in land values and a need for more roads and highways.

Those two consequences in Kendall County, as well as an increasingly popular (but ethically shady) practice in Congress known as "earmarking," have combined to place one of Hastert's land dealings in the news.


North Korea's missile tests pose diplomatic mess

How does the world community influence a nation that has long made a point of not being a member of the world community? Obviously, with great difficulty."

Nonetheless, the United States and its friends in Asia have no choice but to diplomatically confront North Korea, which has made its neighbors nervous by conducting a series of missile tests.


'The Moving Wall' in Tuscola

Independence Day has passed but East Central Illinois residents will have another opportunity to show their patriotism and their appreciation for those who gave the ultimate sacrifice when the Vietnam Moving Wall comes to Tuscola this weekend.

The wall, a half-size replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C., will be on display at East Prairie Elementary School in Tuscola from today through Monday.


State spending itself into an expanding fiscal hole

Gov. Rod Blagojevich likes to portray himself as a leader different than his predecessor, George Ryan. Now comes state Comptroller Dan Hynes' final fiscal year 2005 financial report (for the year ended June 30, 2005) which proves beyond a doubt that Blagojevich, like Ryan, continues to spend the state beyond its means.


Signs point to an unusual year in Illinois electoral politics

Gov. Rod Blagojevich tried to put the best face on the grim news last week that federal authorities have, according to the U.S. attorney's office, "implicated multiple state agencies and departments" and "have developed a number of credible witnesses" in their investigation of hiring practices in the Blagojevich administration.

That's still a ways from an indictment and a conviction, but it's got to be worrisome to a governor who already has spent millions of dollars in his campaign for re-election, only to see his polling numbers stay below 50 percent.


Ruling costs corrupt Ryan pal

It's bad enough when government officials sell out the public trust. But it adds insult to injury when these same individuals are allowed to keep state pensions.

Illinois law requires that corrupt officials forfeit their pensions. But many of them try to slip through cracks. Thanks to a state appellate court decision last week, one fewer former official is on the dole.


Pilot's hiring shows how clout, not qualifications, count in Illinois

If we were Gov. Rod Blagojevich, we might be calling for an investigation of the Blagojevich administration. A recent disclosure by The Associated Press paints a picture of a staff that doesn't appear to be concerned enough about the personal safety of the governor and other state officials.


Buffett, Gates form philanthropic team

When he was looking for investments, billionaire financial whiz Warren Buffett always searched for sound management and a track record of success.

That's also what Buffett was looking for when he decided it's time to start giving away the vast majority of his $44 billion fortune. So rather than create his own charitable foundation, Buffett will give $37 billion in 5 percent annual increments to the charitable foundation headed by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates.


School board should look north of I-74 for new school site

If Champaign school board members want to buy a landlocked, 80-year-old school building on a site that is too small (school officials have said they prefer a 10-acre site) and is a mile west of a historically underused elementary school and a mile east of another underused school, they will buy the Judah Christian School at 908 N. Prospect Ave.

But there are other options that make a lot more sense than the idea of buying – for whatever price – a building that the school board sold more than 20 years ago for $160,000.