Editorial Roundup: Recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers
Posted July 11
Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:
Southwest Times Record. July 9, 2017.
State officials recently announced the near completion of a project to put high-speed internet access into every Arkansas school.
We offer our thanks to those who are making this a reality. The initiative sets Arkansas apart from other states in being a leader for such a service.
Although many students benefit from having high-speed internet at home, there are many other who do not, especially in rural areas with smaller school districts. With high-speed service available at all schools, students can be on more of an equal playing field with regards to performance. What put some at a disadvantage before will no longer be a factor.
The project involved more than 20 telecommunications companies and was developed through the Arkansas Department of Information Systems. The Federal Communications Commission's E-Rate program provides much of the funding, meaning the state will be reimbursed for much of what it spends.
Most connections already have been made at Arkansas' schools, and officials said the remainder should be hooked up before school starts in August.
Students are in a position now to learn in a much different way than their parents or grandparents did. Technology is at the forefront of most learning situations these days, and it's here to stay. Many school districts have even moved toward using tablets rather than traditional textbooks. There's an entire world of learning out there for today's students, and internet access at school makes that possible. It can only be a good thing when the avenues for learning are expanded for everyone.
It's significant that Arkansas' schools will now be able to provide the means for students living in difficult environments to have the same kind of opportunities as other students. While those with access to high-speed internet at home have the ability to conduct research, work on projects or otherwise study during hours outside a regular class period, others do not. Now, students can take advantage of having high-speed internet available to them at a location where they spend a great deal of their time. We can see students using this tool during school hours as well as before and after school.
That may mean little to some who read this and think, "My school already has this," and that's true. But for many school districts, this will be a new and welcome tool for learning.
We applaud the efforts and send along our appreciation for the effort to get all of Arkansas' students connected and engaged. Such efforts mean students can go to any district, big or small, from Fort Smith to Van Buren to Hackett and beyond, and be given the same opportunities to learn as those in the biggest school districts in the country. It certainly looks like Arkansas has done its job to provide its students with the necessary tools for success, and we say thank you for that.
Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. July 11, 2017.
Back in the late 1990s, two movies — "Edtv" and "The Truman Show" — told very different stories about the challenges of living one's life under the constant eye of cameras. Both movies told the story of men who were on TV 24 hours a day, seven days a week as a form of entertainment. They both involve story lines in which the lead characters become disenchanted with always being on camera.
Flash forward to 2017. It's unlikely anyone reading this is on television 24/7, but if you departed your home this morning and went anywhere, there's a pretty good chance at least a part of your day was captured by someone's camera. Security video systems are getting less and less expensive, so even small businesses and homeowners can have multiple cameras with digital recorders documenting every moment.
The trip to the grocery store? You're on camera. A withdrawal from an ATM. Smile! Plop down $50 and you can have a dash cam installed on your car, capturing every moment of traffic in front of your car and, in some cases, behind. And let's not forget smartphones: It's been a decade since the first iPhone came out and other manufacturers have produced with similar devices, ensuring most people are walking around with cameras capable of videos and still images.
We are in a world in which almost every incident of significance produces video.
When we recently read that the Bentonville School District will install cameras on those big yellow vehicles transporting a most precious cargo — the community's children — it seemed a natural extension of where we are as a society, and for a good reason.
The district is installing seven cameras on each bus, with four looking at the interior and three on the exterior. The reason is simple: Safety. Of the passengers. Of the driver. And of the public.
We remember oh so many years ago catching the bus. Most days, it was just what it is still — a necessary ride to school. But get that many kids together and sooner or later, something unexpected will happen. The presences of cameras can be a deterrent to improper behavior but, if it does happen, it will also help document what took place.
Perhaps just as important, the external cameras can help provide evidence of those inattentive or aggressive drives who simply can't be bothered by legal requirements to not pass a stopped bus. The transition from the security of the bus to the sometimes dangerous world of automobiles outside is perhaps one of the most dangerous times of the day for students. School officials can use video evidence to help police enforce the law. Nobody's wanting more traffic tickets handed out. What they want is a safe environment for children. If citations are needed to achieve that, so be it.
Most of the time, the videos produced by these cameras would make for boring television, but they nonetheless should prove a strong tool to help provide a safer experience for students and drivers.
It's great to see the school district put technology to such good use.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. July 11, 2017.
Words, words, words. The air is full of them as American diplomats, generals and correspondents fill the dead air at the United Nations with warnings, pronouncements, and blather in general in response to North Korea's latest triumph: a successful test of an intercontinental missile that could hit Hawaii, Alaska and/or this country's west coast. But they're all just idle words full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
The air is full of a lot more than words on Pyongyang's part. Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis says the North Koreans' latest missile was one not sighted before, for its range is estimated at more than 3,400 miles and was launched from a mobile platform, which can be harder to target.
This country's commander in chief seems to have reduced his rank to tweeter-in-chief as he fusses and fumes at North Korea's ally and mentor, Communist China, but shows little inclination to do anything but make threats about cutting off American trade with Beijing — threats not likely to be taken seriously either by the Chinese or anyone else who's seen this show before. Depending on Beijing to restrain its North Korean trading partner is likely to prove as futile as relying on the old Soviet Union to restrain North Korea's Kim Il Sung as the Korean War was brewing.
Meanwhile, the crew at Foggy Bottom, aka the U.S. State Department, seems to have no better strategy in this present crisis than the tried-and-failed approach it has used to no great effect again and again: Bluff till this country's bluff is called, then return to square one, failing to pass Go or otherwise learn from bitter experience. Instead, American and South Korean troops have launched precision-guided missiles just off Korea's eastern coast. But who's scared of the big bad American eagle these days? Certainly not the North Koreans, who can tell a bluff when they see one.
Instead of speaking softly and carrying a big stick, this country's spokespersons seem to have boiled down American foreign policy to shouting loudly and gesticulating madly. And then bragging about self-restraint. To quote the commander in charge of American forces on the Korean peninsula, Gen. Vincent Brooks: "Self-restraint, which is a choice, is all that separates armistice and war," referring to the 1953 cease-fire that didn't end the Korean War but only declared a kind of time-out. And time is fast running out these days.
"As this alliance missile live-fire shows," declares Gen. Brooks, "we are able to change our choice when so ordered by our alliance national leaders. It would be a grave mistake for anyone to believe anything to the contrary." But actions still speak louder than propaganda, particularly the transparent kind. South Korea's president Moon Jae-in has a point when he says the allies need to respond to North Korea's threats "with more than statements." Especially unconvincing ones.
Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator, sent his message not just in words but through actions, which still speak louder. When he became president and commander in chief of American forces, American policy still aimed only to contain the Soviet Union. He changed that limited goal from just settling for a draw to victory. And he succeeded. Or as he summed up the great change in American policy after listening to the State Department's usual long and unconvincing presentation, a better and simpler policy would be: We win, they lose. And this country did indeed win the Cold War under his leadership, and the Communists did indeed lose. Without a shot fired.
How can this country follow his effective example when it comes to North Korea, and others like Iran? Here's how:
We could undermine both regimes' finances rather than let them go on financing terrorism worldwide. In Iran, target the Revolutionary Guard Corps, indicting it for terrorist activities in the court of world opinion. Stop the Iranians, for example, from transferring weapons to its junior partners like Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, cutting off its water and thus preventing still another war between Israel and Iran's puppets. Focus on both regimes' economic and electoral corruption. And keep the pressure on by announcing that war criminals will be held to account.
Keeping up outside pressure until regimes change — in Tehran and Pyongyang — sounds like the best plan all around.
Just as Ronald Reagan let the leaders of the late and unlamented Soviet Union know that Washington was now under new management, and saw this country through to victory, it can be done. This country has done it before — and needs to do it again.