Our voice: Thumbs up to Ki-Be school district for putting kids first, at last

January 21, 2013 

The Kiona-Benton City School District's recent settlement with its teachers union is a welcome step in the right direction.

The deal allows two substitute teachers dismissed from the district last spring back into the classroom, a move that we hope brings an end to the infighting that has plagued the district in recent months.

Both sides gave up some ground. The administration reinstated Avone Williamson and Vic Engelhart and provided them with $2,000 cash settlements. The union agreed to drop another 10 grievances pending against the district.

It doesn't resolve every disagreement between the union and the district, but it demonstrates the two sides can meet in the middle to benefit kids. That's important to know.

The bickering between teachers and administrators has been a distraction. Energy expended on the dispute now can be refocused on the students.

Poor aim

To the National Rifle Association's decision to drag the president's children into the gun-control debate.

You'd think the NRA would know better than to shoot itself in the foot, but its new ad looks a lot like a self-inflicted wound.

"Are the president's kids more important than yours?" the narrator asks. "Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school. Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he's just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security. Protection for their kids and gun-free zones for ours."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called the NRA ad "reprehensible."

"I think it's awful to bring public figures' children into the political debate. They don't deserve to be there," the Republican told reporters.

Not just awful, but inaccurate. The Washington Post gives the ad "four Pinnochios" for stretching the truth.

Fact checkers at the newspaper found that security at Sidwell Friends School, where Malia and Sasha Obama are enrolled, is on a par with most public schools its size. That doesn't count the Secret Service detail that protects the president's family as required by law.

Does accepting Secret Service protection while not providing it for the rest of us make our presidents elitist hypocrites?

Apparently it does, according the NRA. A spokesman for the organization, Andrew Arulanandam, told the Washington Post, "The president and his family enjoy 24-hour security from law enforcement at taxpayer expense, and this ad asks very real questions: If it's good enough for the president, why shouldn't it be good enough for the rest for us?"

And we think our existing entitlement programs are unsustainable.

More importantly, the ad puts the president's position in a false light. While he has expressed skepticism about the NRA's proposal to put an armed guard in every school, he also has kept the idea of additional security on the table for discussion.

In fact, the package of gun-control measures Obama proposed last week include a call for Congress to help schools hire more guards or other school resource officers.

The NRA has a role to play in the debate, but it better adjust its scope. This ad is off target.

Taxing dilemma

To the U.S. tax code for being even worse than we thought.

A new report by Nina E. Olson, the national taxpayer advocate, found that businesses and individuals spend more than 6 billion hours a year figuring out how to comply with the 4 million words included in U.S. tax law.

That's the equivalent of 3 million people working full time, year-round to decipher and apply a volume of tax law that's more than five times the size of the Bible.

Olson's report has generated some buzz in Congress, but calls for reform from that quarter are more amusing than reassuring.

Since 2001, Congress has made almost 5,000 changes to U.S. tax law, Olson found. That's an average of more than one a day.

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