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State needs to grow ACT scores

Nebraska has made changes that give a better understanding of how the state's students are doing on the ACT exam. The approach helps educators and state leaders see how far Nebraska must go to improve.

The average composite score for Nebraska's 2018 graduating class was 20.1. That placed Nebraska fifth among the 17 states that test all public high school juniors for the ACT. Nebraska adopted that testing approach only recently, so this was the first statewide score that allowed such an apples-to-apples comparison with other states.

Statewide, about half the graduating class scored below the admissions target (a minimum score of 20) for the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and University of Nebraska at Omaha. Fewer than a quarter of graduates met all four college readiness benchmarks — targets that predict success in first-year college courses. Fifty-six percent of graduates were prepared for success in English, 35 percent in math and 40 percent in reading.

The skill requirements for the modern workplace are high, and schools have a major challenge in preparing students. Educators' careful study of Nebraska's ACT scores can help districts and the State Board of Education make the needed adjustments.

- Omaha World-Herald


Don't let golf course derail progress

Other communities have public golf courses or riverfront green spaces. But North Platte's combination of those two ideas — Iron Eagle Golf Course — has torn us apart for 30 years.

It's become such an obstacle, it seems, that we can't agree on getting visitors to help us fix our streets and parks through a legally dedicated half-cent sales-tax increase. Some have said a lack of trust in city government caused the proposal's 2-to-1 rejection. Whatever reasons individuals may have had, one factor keeps coming up: Iron Eagle.

We intend no disrespect to the hard work and dedication of the golf course's staffers, the generosity of the Glenn Chase family — whose land donation made Iron Eagle possible — or the course's loyal patrons. But whether or not municipal golf was a good idea in the late 1980s, its location along a flood-prone river surely has been proved ill-advised in the late 2010s.

The incoming City Council should divest itself of Iron Eagle, or work toward a lower-maintenance use of the site, to remove municipal golf as a reason — or excuse — for blocking community progress.

- North Platte Telegraph


Trade aid shows farm subsidy mess

As if we needed another reminder, a report on the early distribution of federal aid to help farmers hurt by the White House's trade war with China shows just how messed up the rules are for farm subsidies.

The Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C.-based organization, reported that more than 1,000 people who live in the 50 largest U.S. cities got some of the nearly 88,000 payments the USDA had shipped out through the end of last month. Eighty-five recipients got checks exceeding the $125,000 federal payment limitation.

This news comes as congressional negotiators seek to hammer out a farm bill, which already is a contentious process. The legislation, among other things, sets the rules for distributing federal farm payments.

The new data are a fresh reminder that more work needs to be done to ensure payments go to the people they're truly aimed at helping: Real farmers.

- Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa)

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