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Florida editorial roundup

September 17, 2013
Associated Press

Recent editorials from Florida newspapers:

Sept. 16

The Miami Herald on state's commitment to wildlife helping turtle population rebound:

Florida's turtles — loggerhead, leatherback, and especially the green — are back from the brink. Their population has surged after being decimated for decades by poached eggs (sorry!), baby turtles done in by development and adults done in by a taste for soup.

This is no mere feel-good tale about the little hatchlings we like to watch scramble into the sea. Rather, it is a story about a forward-looking ecologist, the diligence of environmental advocates and a state that took conservation seriously enough to pass laws to protect its wildlife. Archie Carr, an ecologist at the University of Florida, started charting the decline of Florida's turtle population in the 1960s. Eggs were routinely stolen from beach nests. Hatchlings often crawled, not into the ocean, but onto to the hot, traffic-heavy streets, lured by the bright lights. And turtle soup was a popular item on restaurant menus.

By the time Dr. Carr died in 1987, there were only 40 green-turtle nests along Florida's entire coast. ...

Florida imposed a ban on gillnets in 1994 to protect threatened stocks of mullet and redfish. As a bonus, turtles were better protected from being inadvertently caught in the broad, all-encompassing nets. One of the biggest boosts came in 1978, when green turtles were put on the federal list of endangered species.

Florida's story of the turtle still isn't guaranteed a happy ending. They still face threats from boat strikes, algae blooms and habitat destruction. But the state has set the pace, and it should continue its model behavior



Sept. 16

Tallahassee (Fla.) Democrat on citizens suffering as state resists the Affordable Care Act:

Florida's leadership in an ill-fated quest to stop Obamacare in the courts was a legitimate effort that led to a landmark Supreme Court ruling.

The Legislature's attempt to amend Florida's Constitution to override Obamacare — an effort that, had it not been rejected by voters, would have been clearly unconstitutional — was just silly. The state's rejection of about $5 billion in federal money to expand Medicaid to more than a million Floridians may prove to be terribly ill-advised.

But now, an order issued last week by the state Department of Health, prohibiting county health departments from allowing so-called "navigators" to help low-income people sign up for subsidized health insurance, is simply mean spirited.

C. Meade Grigg, deputy secretary for statewide services at the Department of Health, told 60 local health department directors that they may accept materials from the navigators. "However, navigators will not conduct activities on the grounds of the health departments," he wrote.

Gov. Rick Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi have said the navigators— counselors hired under the Affordable Care Act — could threaten the private information of people trying to get health insurance. In August, Gov. Scott said he wanted to know "how this information will be shared among federal agencies or if the federal government will also distribute it to outside groups."

If you already have health insurance, you know how confusing it can be to examine the many options each year and navigate the sign-up process. It will be that much harder for people who never have had health insurance to understand the health exchanges and other options under Obamacare.

Dr. Marc Yacht, retired director of the Pasco County Health Department and an occasional My View writer for the Democrat, called the order "cruel and irresponsible" and said it would "significantly compromise a multitude of needy Floridians from getting critical health care."

The mission of the Florida Department of Health is "To protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida." With about 3.8 million Floridians living without health insurance, the governor and Department of Health should reverse this directive immediately.



Sept. 16

The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla., on online classes will modernize education in state, nation:

Florida leaders continue to push the state forward on the issue of online education. They should keep up their efforts, despite the Sunshine State's already high ranking in the online education field.

The Digital Learning Now Report Card, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit, recently gave Florida a "B'' in its digital educational efforts. Only Utah did better. Only five other states got a "B." Forty-four states got a "C'' or lower.

So Florida is ahead of the game. But in the digital world, complacency leads to falling behind, and fast. That is why it is good to see Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford declare that the Sunshine State will endeavor to lead the nation in online education, from pre-kindergarten to college.

It's a commendable goal.

Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, two of the finest colleges in the world, have recently teamed up to create "edX," according to the Wall Street Journal. The edX program will spend $60 million and try to reach students and learners from Boston to China to India.

Closer to home, Daytona State College is making its mark in online education. Earlier this year, U.S. News & World Report ranked DSC at No. 2 among online bachelor's degree programs. The ranking includes hundreds of colleges and universities nationally.

In Volusia County, the public school system has a "BYOT" program — meaning "bring your own technology." ...

So public schools, private schools and colleges must prepare for the future by making online education a constantly refined and updated part of the learning culture.

Online education will be one of the great learning tools of the 21st century. The state must be ahead of the curve in using technology to improve education.




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