Princeton list highlights academic excellence at Evergreen

The Evergreen State College has landed on the Princeton Review’s list of “The Best 377 Colleges” for 2013. It’s another example of the outstanding national reputation that the Olympia liberal arts college has been able to develop and sustain over the years.

Princeton’s best college list, which began in 1992, relies on a survey of 122,000 college students is based on an eclectic ranking system of 62 indicators.

Evergreen was lauded for its student-faculty ratio of 23 to 1. It’s considered a reasonably priced institution of higher learning and ranked 29th among master’s degree colleges with a history of success when it comes to sending graduate students on to doctoral programs. It’s viewed as having a top-notch student body of high achievers and outstanding academics. The college radio station earned high marks, too.

The 40-year-old college that eschews grades and promotes interdisciplinary studies is sometimes seen by its detractors in the Pacific Northwest as a tree-hugging, Birkenstock-wearing, anti-establishment community. Seems as if the college’s reputation shines brighter from a distance. Just ask the folks at the Princeton Review.

By most government accounts, the Great Recession ended in June of 2009. But if the economy is on the road to recovery, it’s a bumpy one at best.

A federal Department of Labor report released last week showed that only 56 percent of employees who lost their jobs between January 2009 and December 2011 had found work by the start of 2012. More than 50 percent of those who did land a job were making less money than in their previous employment. One-third of workers hired in those three years took pay cuts of 20 percent or more.

About 6.1 million people with three years of work experience in the same job lost those jobs in the three-year period, beginning in 2009. In the previous three years during the peak of the recession, 6.9 people fell into the ranks of the unemployed.

An Associated Press analysis last month revealed that almost every economic indicator is performing poorer than at any time since the Great Depression. No wonder the economy is the hot-button issue in the 2012 elections.

The Olympia City Council is headed in the right direction with a plan to shrink the size of the Olympia Planning Commission from 11 to nine. The action won’t be final until the City Council passes an ordinance changing the planning commission size. But a majority of council members have voiced support for the move.

A nine-member commission will be manageable and have an easier time achieving a quorum to conduct business. The smaller commission also mirrors the size of planning commissions in neighboring jurisdictions, including Lacey, Tumwater and Thurston County.

Trying to tackle complicated land-use decisions is never easy. The commission’s convoluted and confusing recommendations on updates to the city Shoreline Management Program is a case in point. A nine-member panel should lead to more efficient discussion of complex planning decisions and more decisive, coherent action.

Consumers across the state should be on the lookout for phone solicitors posing as state agents for the state’s senior property tax relief program, according to state officials.

Callers who falsely claim to work for the state have been calling senior citizens, and trying to sell them reverse mortgages. The callers have asked for personal information under the guise of determining if they qualify for the state’s property tax relief programs, or for aid and assistance programs for veterans, according to the state Attorney General’s Office.

Consumers are reminded not to dole out personal information over the phone to strangers. Those with questions about these programs should call their county assessor’s office or the state Department of Veterans Affairs toll-free number (800-562-2308).