The promise is working — for those students who apply.
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education says that in 2006, 79 percent of Twenty-first Century Scholars graduated from high school, compared to 59 percent of low-income students as a whole. These students were nearly three times as likely to go to college as other students in the same income bracket.
But in 2012 just 40 percent of Hoosier students receiving free or reduced-price lunches applied for the full-tuition scholarship.
The Twenty-first Century Scholars program currently is accepting applications. The deadline is June 30 — one week from today. If your child is in the seventh or eighth grade and qualifies for assistance in paying for school meals, log onto www.scholars.in.gov/enroll and sign up.
We all want our children to stay away from drugs, focus on their studies and chase their dreams by going to college. By making a simple pledge to remain drug-free and maintaining a GPA of 2.5, Indiana will pay your child's tuition to a state-supported college or university.
Data gathered by the Commission for Higher Education suggest our Twenty-first Century Scholars must push themselves academically and earn an honors diploma in high school.
Why is this so important? The commission has found that students who take a remedial college course have just a 1 in 4 chance of graduating.
Our area school districts should endeavor to ensure each eligible student enrolls in the Twenty-first Century Scholars program before they enter high school and encourage the pursuit of an honors diploma.
Indiana's Twenty-first Century Scholars program
Our area school districts should endeavor to ensure each eligible student enrolls in the Twenty-first Century Scholars program.
South Bend Tribune. June 25, 2015
Drug testing laws are a failure
The Indiana General Assembly would do well to consider a recent lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana before pursuing — once again — a state law requiring drug tests for welfare recipients.
Earlier this month the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of a Posey County woman who was denied help by her township trustee in paying her utility bills. The woman, Mary Neale, passed an initial drug test but was unable to produce a sample for a second test because of several physical ailments.
Democratic Rep. Terry Goodin of Crothersville proposed the testing requirement at the very end of the last session, but later asked that it be removed from consideration for more study this summer.
Those who receive cash benefits through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program, as well as those enrolled in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as food stamps, have been targeted for drug testing in the past. Such programs haven't been successful.
Florida's welfare drug-testing program was declared unconstitutional in March based on the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures. In four months of testing in Florida, fewer than 3 percent of applicants tested positive for drugs. It cost more to administer the program than was saved in benefits to people who failed the drug test. A similar measure in Michigan was ruled unconstitutional by a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003.
There is no evidence to support that poor people are more likely to abuse drugs than anyone else, just as those who can afford healthy and nutritious food aren't more likely to make good choices when it comes to diet.
It's time for the legislature to stop pursuing these drug-testing bills.
Kokomo Tribune. June 24, 2015
Mitigating a disaster
Shaking and a great "boom" awoke the Henry family just before 8 a.m. Dec. 30, 2010.
"I had a friend in western Indiana who later called and asked if I heard anything," Craig Henry told us outside his home in southeastern Howard County later that morning. "I said, 'Yeah, it happened right in my backyard.'"
"It" was a 3.8-magnitude earthquake. The temblor's epicenter was farmland at the northeast corner of Indiana 26 and Howard County Road 1250 East, about 5 miles south of Greentown.
County authorities said 113 people called 911 within 15 minutes of the first tremor. But its radius spread between 120 and 190 miles, the U.S. Geological Survey of Golden, Colorado, said, jolting people from Chicago to southwestern Ohio.
Midwest earthquakes are few but not uncommon. Scientists anticipate a damaging quake occurring in the central U.S. within the next 50 years, the Indiana Department of Homeland Security says.
That's why the Indiana National Guard, state Department of Homeland Security and Bloomington and Columbus fire departments will practice earthquake search and extraction procedures at Muscatatuck Urban Training Center near Butlerville today.
And it's why hundreds of thousands of Hoosiers will take part in the sixth Great Central U.S. ShakeOut Oct. 15. About 1.6 million participants across the U.S. registered to practice earthquake safety actions "Drop, Cover and Hold On" last year.
Homeland Security annually urges Hoosiers to pledge family, school or business participation in the earthquake drill in October and suggests your family establish an emergency communication plan and assemble a disaster kit.
Ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as the "family contact" when disaster strikes. It is often easier to call long distance after a local emergency. Ensure every family member knows the name, address and phone number of the contact person.
In a disaster kit, include: food and water for three days, radio, flashlight, batteries for the radio and flashlight, first aid kit, clothing, blankets, personal hygiene items, emergency phone numbers, cash in small bills and copies of documents such as Social Security cards and insurance information.
Earthquakes and other disasters, like tornadoes and floods, can happen any time and place. With a bit of preparation, you might help prevent such an event from becoming a family calamity.
The Elkhart Truth. June 25, 2015
Indiana Attorney General right about e-cigarette regulation
Vaping, or use of e-cigarettes, needs oversight and Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller continues to fight for it, as he should.
Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is asking for more regulation of e-cigarettes and it's exactly the right call.
Zoeller is concerned about teens using e-cigarettes and has asked the federal Food and Drug Administration to add them to the Tobacco Control Act.
The FDA proposed the regulation in 2014 but never acted, so e-cigarettes remain outside the FDA's authority, according to Zoeller. The FDA is working on federal regulations and is accepting public comments through July 2.
As Indiana's attorney and top law enforcement officer, he wants to see that this popular new way of ingesting nicotine is regulated, and that makes sense.
E-cigarettes haven't been around long enough to establish a body of research like there is for tobacco. We can't afford to wait decades for the accurate research. This is a public health issue. This is a nicotine delivery system. If adults choose to use it to get nicotine, that's one issue, but when teens and tweens are sucking on e-cigs, it's another.
There is clear research that young people are vaping, as it's commonly called. Zoeller cites a University of Michigan study that more teens used e-cigarettes in 2014 than any other tobacco product, with 1 in 6 high school students trying them.
Zoeller sent a letter with Maine Attorney General Janet Mills, with whom he oversees the National Association of Attorneys General Tobacco Committee. Other attorneys general were part of the lobbying in 2013 and 2014, but Zoeller is still at it.
He asked the 2015 Indiana General Assembly to tax e-cigarettes at a higher rate, which didn't pass. Indiana lags behind most of the country in regulating e-cigarettes to teens. More than 40 states don't allow the sale to those younger than 18. Massachusetts AG Maura Healey said this spring she'd like to protect her state's children by joining that list.
In the face of lobbying from vape shops and others, Indiana lawmakers added a few regulations but didn't go that far.
Zoeller is calling for regulation of an increasingly popular way for people to get nicotine. He's stayed at this for several years and is working on state and federal levels.
Particularly when it comes to Hoosier young people, that's the right call. Oversight that could protect public health won't emerge from thin air.