The Herald-Times, Bloomington. Oct. 2, 2012.
Gains outweigh concerns about international student growth
The presence of nearly 6,000 international students on the Indiana University Bloomington campus this year is a benchmark worth celebrating.
A story in the Sunday Herald-Times noted a couple of reasons it also is causing some concern. One reason is that some of the students — often from China, Korea or other Asian countries — do not have the language proficiency necessary to smoothly blend into class.
Another is that some students do not have cultural sensitivity to established ethics of higher education — in other words, they might share information inappropriately to lend an unfair advantage, which stated clearly is cheating.
While those reasons deserve attention, the overall value of international students to a campus, its surrounding community and the world in general far outweighs them.
In a world growing more global economically, socially and politically, exposure to people from other cultures enhances the chance for connections that can promote prosperity and solve problems. These connections and the understanding they bring could help improve health and quality of life in developing countries, could lead to peace and stability in parts of the world and could lead to knowledge and reduce fear of the unknown or the misunderstood.
That may sound like hyperbole. We would argue it is not. International exposure is that important.
In addition for IU, tuition paid by international students can help offset losses in funding from the state. The university should consider the surcharge for international students now in place at Purdue University as a means of a further financial benefit.
Still, the students coming from foreign lands must have the language skills necessary to allow them to succeed without significantly more mentoring from a faculty member than that required by a student whose first language is English. Thus, it's welcome news, as noted in Sunday's story, that beginning with the fall of 2012 class, all new international students had to present proof of passing a language proficiency test in the admissions process, something that was not previously required.
Beyond that, if a student cannot complete the course work because of language deficiencies, they should not pass.
But as we champion the English-centered world in which we live, it's worth noting that many students sent abroad from IU and other U.S. universities do not have stellar language skills in whatever culture they are dropped into.
Those skills grow significantly while they live abroad, and such should be the case with students who come here. But students traveling from the U.S. abroad also have the advantage that many countries in the world treat English as almost a required second language, so they can easily get by.
David Zaret, IU's vice president for international affairs, said: "IU's international strategic plan places a high value on the presence of students from all over the world as one of the foundations of a university that teaches a global perspective and conducts research representing the cooperative efforts of scholars around the world."
That overarching point must be the one around which these issues revolve.
Evansville Courier & Press. Sept. 29, 2012.
Praise from Romney proves Bill Clinton's comeback complete
Former President Bill Clinton is justifiably known for his political and psychological resilience. Not for nothing is he known as the Comeback Kid.
But what happened Tuesday at a meeting of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York would have sent a lesser man crashing to the floor of the Sheraton Hotel ballroom with a severe case of whiplash.
Clinton, whom the GOP strove mightily to evict from office, is being favorably invoked, even courted, by Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee. Standing by the former president's side, Romney said, "If there's one thing we've learned in this election season, by the way, is that a few words from Bill Clinton can do a man a lot of good."
He was referring to Clinton's speech in support of President Barack Obama at the Democratic convention, which resulted in a slight boost — a "bounce," in political parlance — in the polls.
Joked Romney, "All I got to do now is wait a few days for that bounce to happen."
Such comments from a leading Republican would have been unimaginable 13 and 14 years ago, when congressional Republicans were striving mightily to drive Bill Clinton from office. Thanks to their efforts, he became only the second U.S. president, after Andrew Johnson, to be impeached.
The House, after a four-year investigation by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, impeached Clinton on two charges, perjury and obstruction of justice, in connection with Paula Jones and, more notoriously, Monica Lewinsky.
The votes, on Dec. 19, 1998, were almost party line, 228 to 206 for perjury and 221 to 212 on obstruction. The charges then went to the Senate, where 13 House "managers" in wearily repetitive iteration of the charges over three days presented their case to an increasingly bored and irritated Senate.
The Senate acquitted Clinton on Feb. 12, 1999, with 50 senators voting guilty on obstruction and 45 on perjury, well short of the 67 votes needed to remove him from office. No Democrat voted for conviction and several Republicans joined them.
Then as now, it was a time of bitter partisanship by House Republicans who found no charge too outlandish or outrageous to hurl at the president. To be fair, the Clintons gave them lots of ammunition with Travelgate, Chinagate, Hillary Clinton's missing billing records, Bill Clinton's womanizing, treating top donors to use of the Lincoln Bedroom and, as the president left the White House, a clutch of what seemed to be politically motivated pardons.
Despite the nastiness, Clinton and the Republicans were able to enact welfare reform, balance the budget and enjoy several years of budget surpluses.
Now Clinton has come back once again — to re-elect Obama. Notice that, unlike during the debates early this year, Romney didn't offer to make a $10,000 bet on the outcome.
Journal & Courier, Lafayette. Sept. 27, 2012.
A breather, perhaps, on schools
Tony Bennett, Indiana's superintendent of public instruction, is nothing if not aggressive about school reform. On Tuesday, during his annual State of Education address, Bennett was true to form.
After championing a host of new forms of school accountability — teacher evaluations based in part on student performance, A-to-F school grading, private school vouchers and tests to make sure third-graders are ready for fourth grade —Bennett came armed with a new goal: Take building-level standards on up to the district level.
"In our efforts to turn around the state's lowest-performing schools, it has become clear that underperformance is often systemic, with problems rooted in district-level leadership," Bennett said during his speech. "To make a greater impact on student performance where it is most desperately needed, Indiana should begin to explore expanding to the district level."
Bennett, a Republican, was promptly criticized by his Democratic challenger, Glenda Ritz. She took broad aim at Bennett's push for reform and whether it was really best for Indiana — a popular theme in many circles.
But Ritz's criticisms are a bit off the mark. The bigger question is whether the sea change in Indiana's education system needs a breather that Bennett seems determined to skip. How well teacher evaluations — something that was overdue, in some form, in Indiana — work is yet to be tested. And whether vouchers and Bennett's insistence on more school choice pays off will take time realize. And there's more.
Indiana's schools deserve a chance to work through the latest batch of reforms before the state starts taking aim at entire districts. Reform, sure. But at the correct speed, please.
Tribune-Star, Terre Haute. Sept. 26, 2012.
Dangerous conditions require extra caution from all involved
The statistics tell a grim story about traffic safety on Interstate 70 through west-central Indiana in 2012. With the freeway undergoing badly needed and long-overdue reconstruction, obstacles to smooth vehicular flow are abundant, and the risks of dangerous crashes are high. The result has been numerous accidents and 10 fatalities.
The most recent incident, near the Cloverdale exit in Putnam County, killed a mother and her 3-year-old child. The father was critically injured. The tragedy of this and other multi-vehicle crashes is as maddening as it is unnecessary.
As has been reported in many of the crashes this year, this one was caused by driver inattention in and around a construction zone. With heavy traffic moving slowly, all it takes is for one driver to make a mistake, to have his or her attention diverted, to become distracted. The results can be devastating.
Both the Indiana State Police and Indiana Department of Transportation have shown a degree of exasperation with these repeated crashes along the stretch between the Illinois border and the I-70 Plainfield exit in Hendricks County. But they contend there isn't much more they can do.
That may be so, but we urge them to keep trying. While signage and patrols may seem more than adequate, taking more drastic steps to raise driver awareness and slow traffic would certainly do no harm.
Meanwhile, drivers must acknowledge that they are ultimately responsible for avoiding distractions, obeying speed laws, anticipating problems and not taking risks that could lead to disaster.
INDOT would add the following advice:
—Pay attention to signage.
—Merge gradually so that traffic patterns are smooth and orderly.
—Slow down and be ready for what's up ahead.
—Avoid tailgating. Maintain a safe distance on all sides of your vehicle.
—Put down your cellphones, CDs and coffee when approaching construction zones. Those are primary causes of distraction.
—Plan ahead. Expect delays. Allow extra time. Select an alternate route.
The construction season will end soon. Meanwhile, remain vigilant. Be safe.