By The Associated Press
Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
The Dothan Eagle on an evaluation of the Alabama Accountability Act:
As Dothan school officials wrangle over strategies to reshape the city school system to make better use of the funds available for education, an interesting report has emerged from the University of Alabama’s Institute for Social Science Research.
The Institute performed an evaluation of the Alabama Accountability Act, the 2013 law that established a mechanism to compensate parents of children zoned for “failing” public schools with $3,500 tax credits to help offset the cost of sending those children to private school.
The study evaluated the academic achievement test outcomes of the 2016-2017 recipients of AAA scholarships compared to their counterparts in public school. Not to put too fine a point on it, the study found no discernible improvement in academic performance of the students in private school with AAA scholarships.
With such results, it’s a wonder there’s not a procession of taxpayers descending on the state house with torches. Under the Alabama Accountability Act, the state spends $30 million from the Special Education Trust Fund each year to send a small collection of students to private school because they’re zoned for public schools deemed as “failing.”
It was a dubious plan from the start, but academic test results aren’t the sole determining factor when weighing whether to move a student from a failing school. Still, these findings suggest that the $30 million in taxpayer funds spent on AAA scholarships might be better spent in an effort to improve public schools attended by hundreds of thousands of Alabama schoolchildren.
Alabama lawmakers must revisit this boondoggle at the first opportunity.
The Gadsden Times on the new iPhone:
The numbers differ microscopically according to who’s doing the polling, but the verdict is quite consistent. Nearly 80 percent of Americans own (and presumably use) smartphones.
Of course The Outline, a digital media company that bills itself as “focused on power, culture and the future,” proclaimed earlier this year on its website that old-school flip phones are “this year’s hottest cultural trend.” It detailed how some people are seeking to make a socio-political protest statement — at least one described it as an effort to “keep a shred more of my sanity” — by ditching their smartphones, while others (actor Daniel Day-Lewis and famous person Kim Kardashian-West were singled out) just want to “look cool.”
A lot of what we do now is aimed at smartphone users because of the initial percentage we cited and the fact that we’re a for-profit operation.
Still, we’ve had the same interactions with folks who get so lost in those little screens that their minds aren’t in any solar system receiving frequencies from Earth. So it’s hard not to offer at least a tiny “hooray” to people who buck the trend (although those of you who have clung stubbornly to your taped-together units from the last decade will eventually have to replace them with 4G models as carriers phase out 3G service).
The reason we’re addressing smartphones is that what essentially is Super Bowl Sunday in that world occurred this week when Apple had its annual unveiling of new products, including three iPhones, at its headquarters in Cupertino, California. (Hold your fire, Android users, we know you’re there, but Apple’s good at this particular P.R. moment.)
The one that’s drawn the most attention is the iPhone XS Max, which has a whopping 6.5-inch display and sells for an equally whopping price ($1,099 for a 64GB model that won’t hold the average elementary school student’s photos; it jumps to $1,249 for 256GB and $1,499 for 512GB).
The XS Max is 3.05 inches wide, 6.2 inches tall, .30 of an inch deep and weighs just 7.34 ounces, so it’s not like those inclined to shell out that much cash will wind up toting around a tablet. (The screen goes from edge to edge.)
Apple also is reacting to the ubiquity of smartphones that we cited (a survey by ReportLinker found that 75 percent of Americans never switch theirs off) and the reality that they’re used for far more than making phone calls (it’s still the No. 1 activity, according to the ReportLinker survey, but at just 37 percent).
The original iPhone had only a 3.5-inch screen, not suitable for streaming “Stranger Things” or a “Mission Impossible” flick.
As for the price — the other new iPhones aren’t cheap either, especially compared to Android alternatives — it’s a question of the bottom line. Even though Apple’s offerings still top the smartphone sales list and overall iPhone sales actually increased by 3 percent in the first quarter of this year, the company and investors are worried that things are flattening. So Apple hopes enough people will be captivated by the siren’s lure of “newer and flashier” so it can make a big score.
However, analysts believe that lure isn’t as strong anymore, and people have taken to leaving well enough alone and not upgrading their phones as often.
Smartphone users certainly are ardent. Perhaps they’re becoming a bit more choosy and much wiser shoppers.
The TimesDaily on Relay for Life:
Those who are involved in Relay for Life do heroic things every year.
The American Cancer Society (ACS) uses Relay for Life to increase awareness of cancer, and to raise funds for groundbreaking cancer research, critical care services, and prevention initiatives. Every person who participates in a Relay for Life event can take pride in knowing they are helping ease the pain and suffering for millions of cancer victims.
More than a fundraiser, Relay for Life is a life-changing event for all participants. It’s an opportunity to learn about caregivers who devote their time to helping those with cancer. It’s a time to hear inspirational stories about the survivors who want to share their hope. It’s a time to reflect upon the determination and drive of those struggling to overcome this terrible disease.
It will take hundreds of volunteers more than six months to lay the groundwork for the 2019 Relay for Life, which will be held April 27 on the grounds of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.
During those months, local businesses and industries will put together their teams, and initiate efforts to collect donations for this worthy cause.
Each of those teams will set their own fundraising goal with the overall goal of the Shoals event being $70,000.
Officials stress that 74 percent of the money raised locally is used to fund research for such programs as Road to Recovery, Reach to Recovery, and Look Good, Feel Better.
Last year, 22 teams participated in the relay, but ACS Community Development Manager Anna Duncan said organizers hope to recruit at least five new teams by December.
We encourage Shoals-area residents to get involved in the Relay for Life program — either as a member of one of the two dozen or more teams that will be formed, or through a donation to the collection efforts of those teams.
Just remember: The fight against cancer may go on for decades, but all lives are changed and made rich by Relay for Life.