Chronicle Editorial

Fast-forwarding through summer


     The end of the State Fair typically marks the proverbial close to summer for most Iowans. Ball diamonds are quiet, traffic at local pools has slowed and days are getting shorter and shorter. These seasonal changes can mean only one thing despite the wishful thinking of area children and teens: it seems a new school year has snuck up on us yet again.

     Mid-August is always an exciting time for students, school faculty and parents. Classrooms are humming with that special back-to-school buzz, and parents no longer have the chore of keeping their kids busy during the day – homework will soon fill that void. Put simply, the new school year is fresh start for everyone involved no matter how much gripe the kids put up.

     Each new school year brings certain challenges. Things like 1:1 laptops have replaced notebooks and Smart Boards have replaced chalkboards. Most assignments are of the electronic variety, making it all but impossible for a dog to eat its owner’s homework anymore.

     It takes a certain set of skills to blend new technology with age-old teaching methods that reverberates with students. This digital whirlwind is quite overwhelming at times, but we can rest assure our local districts are capable of handling the changes. These devices help prepare students for our technology-driven world and we can be thankful Franklin County’s schools have stayed on the cutting edge of classroom technology. Funding shortfalls and other problems have simply made it hard for other rural districts to keep pace.

     Homework and classroom lectures are only a small part of the new school year, of course. Fall sports are here, and the optimism of a new season is electrifying. Be it football, cross country, volleyball or even marching band, our local students put a lot of effort into their respective activities to give us their best product. We anticipate each new season and look forward to watching the students’ hard work pay off.

     As always, please be careful on Franklin County roads now that the school year has begun. We wish all area students and teachers the best of luck in 2014-15, and we know they have all the tools to make it a success.

     Keep up the good work, and have a great year!


Debate does little to slow Branstad’s momentum


     As predicted by many political pundits, last week’s gubernatorial debate between Gov. Terry Branstad and challenger Jack Hatch did very little to change the campaign landscape as we head towards November. Hatch fired some shots and Branstad fired back, but the Democrat failed to land any significant blows during the hour-long debate. Thus, goes to the incumbent.

     The debate brought up some interesting points nonetheless. Branstad introduced his new “Connect Every Acre” initiative aimed at expanding broadband Internet to every acre in Iowa. He failed to elaborate on the proposal during the debate, but it will be interesting to see if he can sell it to voters. A smaller broadband bill failed to advance in the Legislature this year, and Branstad’s plan only builds on that unsuccessful idea.

     Hatch’s proprosals also drew some added attention. He advocated raising minimum wage in Iowa to $10.10 an hour, which he feels would give more Iowans a better shot at a higher standard of living. The idea mirrored wage hike proposals in other states and at the federal level, and discussion is poised to continue into the future.

     A little bit of mud flew during the debate too, and that will continue until the very end. Hatch has considerable ground to gain if he’s going to make this thing interesting by any stretch of the word. He might claim Iowans are ready for a change in leadership, but history and current polls prove otherwise. Branstad is a popular five-term governor with a successful fiscal and economic track record. If last week’s debate was an indicator of things to come, it’s going to be six.