Roundup of Arkansas editorials

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 18, 2012 at 8:02 am •  Published: December 18, 2012

Here are excerpts from recent editorials in Arkansas newspapers:

Southwest Times Record, Dec. 13, 2012:

Drug Court Saves Lives, Strengthens Communities

It is hard to estimate how much the Sebastian County Drug Court has improved life in the county in the last decade.

Patricia Taylor, a graduate of the first class, described the day she entered the program to members of the most recent class at their graduation Saturday.

"January 9, 2002 — the best day of my life," she said.

It is a birthday of sorts for Taylor, just as entrance day is for many of those who work hard to succeed in the program. It is the day they took control, not of their addictions, but of their lives.

Drug court is an alternative sentencing program that offers addicts a chance to clean up without jail time or felony convictions. The program is not like summer camp. The arduous four-step recovery program typically takes at least two years to complete, and may take three or four years.

Sometimes those sentenced to drug court grumble about it, especially when they first enter the program. They complain about testing and meetings and the other hurdles they must jump over to remain in good standing. The consequences for failing to stay in good standing can include prison time.

But the benefits are outstanding. Where jail time can tear a family apart, drug court can provide a structure for keeping it together. Drug court also diverts some nonviolent offenders from jail, keeping limited corrections space free for really scary bad guys.

Perhaps most important, drug users who previously faced a life of shame and despair get a glimpse of another way to live. Many of them, statistically most of them, will grab that chance and make the most of it. One day at a time they learn to trust themselves and their higher power, however they understand it. They have support when they stumble, whether it's a pat on the back or a kick on the rear they need.

Drug Court also provides something a lot of users haven't seen in a while: role models who can tell them the truth because they have fought the same battles. Saturday's graduation included awards for people with 910 days, 850 days and 729 days clean. That's some serious recovery worth celebrating.

So we offer thanks from a grateful community to those who worked hard to establish this program, to those who work hard to keep it running, to the judges who believe enough in people to sentence them to this program and to the people who, despite their own tortured histories, believe in themselves enough to give it a try. Thanks also to rehabilitation services that work with Drug Court clients, to employers who take a chance on them. Thanks to local 12-step programs that always have room for one more at the table.

Sebastian County is stronger and more vibrant for the lives Drug Court interrupted and saved. Because of Drug Court, we have 10 years of people who add to our communities with sobriety and service. That's a great thing.

___

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Dec. 17, 2012:

Give hope a chance — and this charter school a try

The pope is on Twitter.

According to dispatches, for the first time last week Benedict XVI twitted or tweeted or twittered or whatever the kids call it.

It's a new world. A brave new one.

An elderly woman asked her middle aged daughter a question the other day: All of your children live out of state now. How can you handle not talking to them all the time, honey?

The reply: "Mama, I talk to my children every day. Several times a day." It's called email or Facebook or social media in general.

We know of a granddad here in Arkansas who can talk to his grandkids any time he wants-face to face, sort of. He fires up the ol' computer, and there they are, all living in Houston, Texas, and all smiling and mugging and generally running off at the mouth. And all readily available every day after school.

Imagine walking into this world from 1960! Or even 1980. It would be as surprising and confusing as Lucy's first visit to the wardrobe in C.S. Lewis' classic children's book. (Not that it isn't a good read for grown-ups, too.)

Comes now yet another dreamer proposing yet another charter school in Arkansas. This particular dreamer, a former public school superintendent, wants to open a charter school.

So? What's so new about that? He wants it to be online. That is, the students would stay at home, but meet with their teachers via some sort of videoconferencing technology every day. The kids would get their assignments online, they would work with other kids online-and they'd do it all at home. Or at grandma's. Or while traveling. Anywhere they had access to a working computer.

There are still some details to be worked out, as Gentle Reader can well imagine. For example, would the kids need to take tests in person? Few doubt that the technology to pull this off won't soon be available-if it isn't already.

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