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Darts and laurels

Dart to confusion and disarray in high places ó which pretty much describes the state of things in North Carolina’s K-12 education bureaucracy. It’s up to the courts to try to provide some clarity now, after state Superintendent June Atkinson filed suit against Gov. Bev Perdue and the state school board. Atkinson was elected to her second term as state school superintendent last November, but she’s never really been in charge of the K-12 system. In her first term, Gov. Mike Easley appointed J.B. Buxton to run the Department of Public Instruction. In this term, Gov. Beverly Perdue gave Atkinson another push into the corner, naming former Cumberland County school chief Bill Harrison chairman of the state school board and CEO of the education department. Ultimately, the solution is a constitutional change revising the leadership role. We don’t elect school superintendents at the local level. Why does anyone think it’s smart to do it at the state level, where even more is at stake?
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Laurels to Mother Nature for sparing the Carolinas from another punishing cold snap this week. While overnight temperatures dipped below freezing in some areas, the chill was relatively brief and did nothing like the damage suffered in 2007, when a four-day Easter cold snap caused more than $100 million in crop damage in North Carolina. This was a welcome reprieve for the agriculture industry and the workers it employs, as well as for consumers looking forward to the bounty of apples, peaches, strawberries and blueberries. And speaking of nature’s bounty, don’t forget that the Salisbury Farmers Market officially starts the new season next Saturday, April 18. The market at the corner of South Main and Bank streets will be open from 7 a.m.-noon Wednesdays and Saturdays.
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Dart to recent episodes of highway mayhem in our local community and the region. Two Rowan teens have lost their lives in auto and ATV accidents. In Charlotte, three people, including a mother and her 2-year-old daughter, were killed in a horrible collision blamed on street racing. It’s easy to point the finger at excessive speed in many accidents, but as former Mecklenburg Sheriff Jim Pendergraph wrote in a commentary in the Charlotte Observer, lax penalties are a large part of the problem. One of the drivers involved in the Charlotte accident had incurred 15 speeding convictions in South Carolina since 1999 and three in North Carolina. Noting that law enforcement, district attorney’s offices and the courts all labor with inadequate resources, Pendergraph concluded that “until the fear of serious consequences for violating the law returns to our criminal justice system … and the government lives up to its primary responsibility, the crime situation will continue to deteriorate.”

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