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Darts and laurels

Laurels to members of the U.S. Army Reserve’s 846th Transportation Company, which left Salisbury this week for its second deployment to Iraq. When unit members came home from a 17-month tour of duty in July 2004, they probably did not expect the war to continue into 2008 ó much less that they would return to be part of it. But the war grinds on, and reservists do their duty. This unit is proficient at moving equipment and supplies, and its services are needed. War and sacrifice go hand-in-hand. While the reservists leave the comfort and security of home, their families are left behind to cope in their absence and wonder how they’re doing. A lot of prayers and good wishes go out to those families and the men and women sent off to war. As Capt. Emilio Rodriguez said at Monday’s send-off, “One hundred, seventy-two soldiers are going, 172 soldiers are coming back, OK?” Amen to that.
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Dart to the seemingly inevitable connection between higher spending and better education. Candidates and elected officials often say it doesn’t help to just throw money at a problem, but a report commissioned by Gov. Mike Easley suggests that it might ó if you throw it in the right direction. Easley wanted to know if the state’s low-performing schools were using existing resources in the most effective manner. According to a release from the FPG Child Development Institute in Chapel Hill, researchers found that the amount of money a high school spends on “regular classroom instruction” ó that’s a key phrase ó is directly related to the achievement level of its students. The more money directed to the classroom, the greater the achievement. Overall per pupil spending is not the secret, the findings suggest. The key is how much money goes toward teachers’ salaries, supplements, benefits and bonuses; salaries for teachers’ assistants, tutors and substitutes; instructional supplies and textbooks; and library or media services. Higher teacher compensation has the largest effect on student performance, the study found. That will come as no surprise to teachers.
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Laurels to voters who keep up with local politics and take the time to be informed. You’ll have a golden opportunity to learn even more on Tuesday, April 8, when the 13 candidates running for the Rowan County Board of Commissioners appear at a forum at the Peeler-Crystal Lounge. The seats now held by Arnold Chamberlain and Jim Sides are up for election, and only Sides is seeking re-election. He’s among eight Republicans on the ballot. There are also five Democrats, and all the candidates have agreed to appear at the forum, which runs from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Catawba College, the Rowan County Chamber of Commerce and the Salisbury Post are co-sponsoring the event, and it will be simulcast on three area AM stations: 1280 WSAT in Salisbury, 1140 WRNA in China Grove and 1460 WRKB in Kannapolis. You can attend it, listen to it on the radio or read about it in the paper the next day. But there’s really no substitute for being there.

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