Recent editorials from Texas newspapers – The Daily Progress


Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Texas newspapers:

The Victoria Advocate. July 15, 2017.

Most people at one time or another have dreaded receiving vaccinations but endured the momentary pain from the needle’s prick to get the shot knowing it was for their own good.

Vaccinations help millions of people every year keep from getting serious and sometimes life-threatening illnesses.

Vaccinations in children help keep down the spread of such illnesses as measles, chicken pox, mumps and polio, to name a few.

It is hard to imagine what our communities would be like if vaccines had not been researched and developed to knock out the epidemics that were quickly spreading across cities decades ago.

For example, polio was once America’s most-feared disease, causing death and paralysis across the country, but today, with the polio vaccination, there are no reports of polio in the United States.

As responsible parents, we must not let scare tactics keep us from vaccinating our children. We must protect them and keep them healthy.

A recent scare tactic spreading across social media is by a Victoria woman who claims her baby’s doctor gave her the wrong vaccination, which has made her ill.

The doctor documented the accidental administration of the vaccine which protects young teens against HPV. Medical experts said it did not harm the child.

But the mother is waging an anti-vaccination campaign at the expense of the doctor’s good name.

Specialists in HPV vaccine research maintain the shot would not cause health issues in a child under the age of 1 as the mother has claimed it did.

The non-live vaccine is designed to stimulate the body to produce antibodies that, in future encounters with HPV, bind to the virus and prevent it from infecting cells, medical experts said.

The worst it could do is cause an irritation and a slight fever, another expert said.

The doctor reported the mistake, which speaks highly of her professional character.

It is time we understand and accept that vaccinations are well researched and tested before being approved for use on children or adults.

Before jumping on the bandwagon to say this was dangerous and that all vaccines are dangerous, parents need to do their research through credible sources that have science on their side.

We must do our research to understand how vaccines work and any possible side effects they may cause.

To learn more about vaccines, talk to your doctor or do your own research using reputable sources such as the Centers for Disease Control or American Medical Association.

Anti-vaccination advocates will always be in our society, but let’s hope they too do their research of credible resources and learn vaccinations help keep them and their children healthy.

Research has debunked the blatant lie that vaccinations cause autism. The doctor who started that scare tactic has been stripped of his credentials, but anti-vaccination advocates still stand by this fallacy.

Anti-vaccine supporters should not stop parents from protecting their children from diseases and viruses.

It is the parents’ responsibility to keep their children healthy.

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Fort Worth Star-Telegram. July 17, 2017.

The “bathroom” bill is the legislation that won’t die.

But it should.

If passed, any of the various House and Senate versions would restrict the use of bathrooms by birth-certificate gender in certain buildings. And that could mean problems.

IBM has come out against it. So has the NFL. In multiple cities across Texas, tourist bureaus, and business groups have made their opposition known.

So why are we still talking about it?

Two words: Dan Patrick.

The lieutenant governor was up in arms about the transgender bathroom non-issue before the Fort Worth schools released equality guidelines for students last year.

He pushed it through the Senate, but House Speaker Joe Straus let it stall in the House.

Now, with Abbott’s push, the “bathroom” bill might be back on the table as one of his many special session agenda items.

On the eve of the special session, many in the business community spoke on the steps of the Capitol to remind legislators why the bill is bad for Texas.

“(Regulating bathrooms) poses an enormous long-term economic risk for the state of Texas. It literally challenges the miracle of Texas,” said Jeff Moseley, Texas Association of Business president.

“A bathroom bill (like) this goes against long-standing Texan values, where independence and grit are the meaningful measures of any person,” Phil Gilbert, IBM’s Global Head of Design, said.

Opposition isn’t just in Austin — it’s local, too.

The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce and the city’s Convention and Visitors Bureau adamantly oppose the bill. Arlington leaders also oppose it. (Grapevine, probably feeling the pinch from losing a conference over the new immigration law, is still quiet on the bathroom bill.)

Fort Worth prides itself on LGBT inclusion and even scored a “100” on the Human Rights Campaign Foundations 2016 Municipal Equality Index. The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce has seen the benefits and wants to keep it that way.

“Companies have cited our inclusive policies as one of the reasons they choose to invest in Fort Worth,” said Matt Geske, the Chamber’s vice president of government affairs.

Fort Worth and Arlington business leaders get it. Why can’t our lawmakers?

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Houston Chronicle. July 17, 2017.

Feeling nostalgic for a return to the 1980s and 1990s? It seems that Jeff Sessions is. “D.A.R.E. is I think the best-remembered anti-drug program today,” the attorney general told attendees at a recent Drug Abuse Resistance Education training conference in Texas.

Sessions is right that many people can still recall sitting in an assembly of students wearing black and red T-shirts, humming the D.A.R.E. theme song, “I Will,” and listening to uniformed police give presentations on the dangers of drug use.

But he’s wrong about the power of D.A.R.E.’s “just say no” mantra. Our children deserve an evidence-based approach, not one that merely feels good.

Decades of research found that D.A.R.E. didn’t actually make much of a difference in preventing drug use by youth. In 2014, Scientific American reviewed several studies of D.A.R.E. and reported that “the program does little or nothing to combat substance use in youth.” D.A.R.E.’s redesigned program “keepin’ it REAL” has had positive results, but this sounder program about personal safety and responsibility needs further study.

Sessions seems unaware of the empirical evidence or the status of the new program. The objections to D.A.R.E. extend beyond its overly simplistic curriculum to its structure. While parents welcome the opportunity to introduce students to the police in a friendly setting, the most effective drug prevention programs involve substantial amounts of interaction between instructors and students, yet policeman aren’t trained as teachers. Nor are they trained in public health. There are more effective ways to deliver an anti-drug message.

Further, it’s also worth investigating whether any drug program, no matter how good, is a better use of resources than increasing social services to target those most likely to try drugs. Augmented mental health resources, for instance, would be an immense step forward in this regard.

What’s clear is that it makes no sense to reintroduce a program if too many students who matriculate from it wind up saying “yes” to drugs anyway. Trey Radel, a former U.S. congressman from Florida who resigned in 2014 after pleading guilty to cocaine possession, weighed in on Sessions’ remarks on Twitter. “‘We had DARE at my school, Nuff said.'”

No question that the best-intentioned efforts can backfire, as when students jokingly refer to D.A.R.E. as “Drugs Are Really Exciting.” If the U.S. attorney general truly wants to make an impact to help young people avoid drug use, reinvigorating D.A.R.E. would squander precious resources and send the wrong message. If we already know D.A.R.E. doesn’t work, why would Sessions want to support failure?

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The Dallas Morning News. July 17, 2017.

Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax was right to invite activist Dominique Alexander to help him evaluate candidates vying to be the next Dallas police chief.

Naming Alexander to one of several interview panels that met recently with the would-be chiefs was a smart, level-headed move aimed at lowering tensions between activists and police officers. That’s something everyone ought to applaud. Police officers included.

Some police representatives saw it differently and raised a ruckus. That snagged the attention of Dallas’ social media phenom Tomi Lahren. She promptly took to YouTube with an angry, profane and thunderously wrong-headed rant that has been viewed millions of times.

“Of all the left-wing, politically correct, intellectually dishonest bulls(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk),” she began. “… The Black Lives Matter activist behind last year’s protests that resulted in the death of five police officers was invited to help choose the next Dallas police chief. Yeah, is your blood boiling yet?”

Lahren is flat-out wrong, even dangerously wrong.

The July 7, 2016 protests didn’t cause the murder of our five officers. Micah Johnson did, when he opened fire. The protesters had peacefully assembled to demonstrate their concern, one that will have to be addressed by the next police chief.

By putting one of the protest organizers on an interview panel, Broadnax wasn’t taking sides in that debate over police shootings. He simply recognizes a legitimate debate exists. And he’s wise enough to listen to multiple perspectives.

When recently contacted by our reporters, Lahren said it is Alexander’s felony conviction that most angers her: “There are excellent folks out there who can represent what the Black Lives Matter movement is supposed to stand for, and with good intentions,” she told the newspaper.

But that’s a ludicrous backtracking from the content of her video, in which she says plainly that “the Black Lives Matter movement itself is bull(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk)(asterisk).” Last August, she called the movement “the new KKK.”

As for Alexander’s record, he was convicted in 2011 of felony harm to a child involving a 2 year old. It’s serious crime, but it doesn’t disqualify him from offering a valuable perspective on the next police chief, especially since his work since has tapped into a community dialogue that desperately needs to continue.

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San Antonio Express-News. July 17, 2017.

The city of San Antonio is well-poised to continue its aggressive efforts against truancy during the upcoming school year.

A $1.2 million grant recently awarded to the city by the governor’s Criminal Justice Division will allow the hiring of an additional 20 caseworkers who will work directly with area school districts to help curb truancy.

San Antonio’s decadeslong focus and innovative strategies on fighting truancy have reaped great rewards. The Texas Legislature took note and two years ago decriminalized truancy in Texas in an attempt to replicate Bexar County’s system statewide.

Some parents erroneously thought decriminalization meant no one was going to enforce truancy laws and truancy went up initially. It doesn’t work that way. Students and parents are still held accountable for the child’s lack of attendance, but court action is a last resort.

Truancy level remain the same but legislation has forced school districts to address the root causes of chronic absenteeism instead of immediately filing criminal complaints.

No amount of community service or fines will resolve some of the issues that truancy officers encounter. The problem is often deeper than a lack of interest in academics. Contributing factors include lack of reliable transportation, housing, food or child care.

The focus on the underlying problems has allowed truancy caseworkers — who are employed by the city’s municipal court but work directly with school attendance administrators — to direct families to social services and programs that can help students earn their diplomas.

The state grant will more than double the number of truancy caseworkers on the city’s payroll.

The funding, which becomes available in August, will allow the city to hire the caseworkers before the start of the fall semester. One of the goals is to have them reach out to former truants before classes start and old attendance patterns resurface, Municipal Court Administrative Judge John Bull said.

The new positions will allow the city to concentrate on problem areas, such as truancy that starts in the lower grades, migrates to middle schools and then ends up in high school, the judge said.

Students who skip class fall behind on schoolwork and are less likely to graduate. They also tend to get in trouble with the law; if they are 17 or older, this could result in an arrest record that can haunt them the rest of their lives.

State law still allows for criminal cases against families who refuse to work with the municipal court system to resolve attendance problems. Four years ago, 37,000 truancy cases were filed in Bexar County. Fewer than 50 cases have been filed this year.

Keeping students in school has an economic impact on a community. Student attendance affects a school district’s funding from the state. Students without at least a high school diploma on their résumé will have a difficult time finding jobs that pay more than a minimum wage.

Today’s job market demands some sort of post-high school education. Not everyone is cut out for college, but even the most basic job-training certificate programs require a high school diploma.

State funding for more caseworkers to keep students in school so they can earn a high school diplomas is money well-spent.


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