A sampling of recent editorials from Colorado newspapers:
The Denver Post, Nov. 23, on the poor and college:
Not every college education is created equal, and it should come as no surprise that Colorado children from the lowest-income families are the least likely to go to the best colleges.
Not surprising, but not acceptable, either. And not necessary, as we shall see.
While going to any college is far better than not attending one at all, not all higher education degrees confer the same benefit. And while elite colleges tend to be expensive, they're also likely to provide more financial aid, too.
The education advocacy group A+ Denver has released a report detailing just how few of Colorado's low-income kids go to top-tier colleges — just 3 percent of such graduates.
Meanwhile, 12 percent of Colorado kids who graduate who are not low income go to those schools.
Part of the answer to this gap is obvious: a general improvement in Colorado's educational system. A rising tide lifts all boats.
But the report, called "Missing the Bus," provides other clues, too.
For one, the report notes that children who receive free or reduced-price lunches and live in wealthier districts are more likely to attend top-tier colleges, while low-income students who live in districts with higher concentrations of poverty are less likely to do so.
Is that a function of higher expectations? A curriculum more geared toward college prep? Or are the kids in poor districts generally worse off than their peers in wealthier districts? Not all poverty is created equal.
But policy-makers aren't helpless even without the answers to those questions. As it happens, a handful of the state's high schools seem to do a better job at sending low-income kids to top-tier colleges, a list of 169 compiled by U.S. News & World Report.
The top tier includes elite Ivy League schools, private colleges and flagship state schools. The ranking, admittedly arbitrary, does not include "access" schools, such as community colleges.
In Colorado, the two programs that send the most low-income kids to top-tier colleges are George Washington High School's International Baccalaureate program and Denver School of Science and Technology. Both are in Denver and both are highly regarded for their rigorous curriculums. Bravo.
Yet, the raw numbers even for these schools are low. For instance, George Washington scored the highest in the report, sending 44 percent of its low-income kids to top-tier schools over three academic years. But that was only 17 students. And the numbers at other schools are even smaller.
We can do better by Colorado students. Indeed, we must.
The Denver Post, Nov. 21, on Ken Buck's respect — or lack thereof — of the president:
Really, Ken Buck?
The newly elected Colorado congressman hadn't even formally taken office when he launched a snarky comment about President Obama via social media.
Buck, having lunch with his wife, sent a tweet from a Washington, D.C., pizza restaurant Nov. 20 after seeing President Obama arrive. Complete with a photo of the president, it said:
"Perry and I were having lunch at We the Pizza near the Capitol. Lost my appetite."
We wouldn't expect the representative from the 4th Congressional District to agree with the president on many issues. But we would expect him to respect the individual and the office.
Let's keep in mind Buck was elected president of his House freshman class. Shouldn't someone in a leadership role know better? We think so.
One of the things that Americans despise about politics these days is how vitriol has undermined the ability to get things done.
Buck's disrespectful comment only plays into that narrative.
The Durango Herald, Nov. 24, on the latest Benghazi report:
The September 2012 attack on the United States' diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, killed four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, a Foreign Service officer and two Central Intelligence Agency contractors. Since then, there have been countless accusations of Obama administration incompetence, malfeasance and lying surrounding the incident.
But even some of President Obama's fiercest critics - House Republicans - cannot find evidence of administration wrongdoing. Nonetheless, they seem intent to string out this faux controversy, probably until 2016. The country would be better served if they did not. There are plenty of legitimate issues and policies to argue about, many of which could produce more positive results. It is time to recognize Benghazi for what it was - a tragedy for four families, but not a political scandal.
The House Intelligence Committee investigated the Benghazi attack for two years and issued its report Friday. It said, in the words of the Wall Street Journal, that the "Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. military responded properly, and that Obama administration 'talking points' were flawed, but didn't find that administration officials attempted to mislead the public." It did say statements by officials, including then ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, were proved wrong. But it attributed those inaccuracies to bad intelligence rather than any attempt to spin the situation.
The idea that the attack grew out of a protest, for example, was incorrect. But as the House report acknowledged, it came from an early CIA assessment. Reports of the protest, which Rice repeated, also came from the Defense Department and the National Security Agency. It was intelligence analysts, the report says, not political appointees who got it wrong.
The committee's report also said a CIA response team had not been ordered to "stand down" and that the CIA received all the military support available. It found that there was no missed opportunity to carry out a military rescue operation. Part of the confusion - and the conspiracy theories that followed - centered on who exactly attacked the compound. The committee's report says intelligence on that "was and remains conflicting" and that "significant intelligence gaps regarding the identities, affiliations and motivations of the attackers remain." The Associated Press says the report describes them as "a mix of extremists and hangers on."
There were mistakes, of course. The report said the compound was not well-protected and the State Department knew if could not be defended from a well-armed attack. In the clear light of hindsight, that seems self-evident. It is also tautological to point out that intelligence before the attack was weak. And at some point, it is time to move on. The House committee's report released Friday is the seventh such investigation into the Benghazi attack. The six previous ones were conducted by congressional committees and a State Department panel. The eighth is being conducted by yet another House committee.
Enough is enough. It clear that the point of all this has long since been not to find the facts about what happened in Benghazi, but to keep digging until something is found that incriminates or embarrasses Obama.
But with seven investigations complete and another under way, the same picture keeps emerging. It is not one of administration criminality or cowardice. There was no conspiracy to hide official misdeeds, mistakes or incompetence. What happened in Benghazi was fundamentally simple. The United States had a bad day in a notoriously dangerous part of the world - and four Americans died bravely doing their job.
That is bad enough. Congress should not make it worse by treating their death as a political prop.
The Daily Sentinel, Nov. 24, on President Obama's immigration action:
We've made no secret of our support for immigration reform. President Barack Obama's unilateral action to make sweeping changes to immigration policy was a step in the right direction — if for no other reason than it provides traction on an issue that had Congress spinning its wheels.
Critics are questioning the president's use of executive authority, claiming it's unconstitutional. But he's not the first president to use it as a way of setting immigration policy. Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush did so and Obama took the unusual step of releasing the Office of Legal Counsel's opinion that his action falls within the scope of presidential power.
Republicans are considering a multitude of responses: challenging the president's action in court, a government shutdown or even impeachment. But there's a much simpler remedy — one that will allow Republicans to demonstrate their ability to govern and prove that they can rise above the partisan fray to take care of critical business.
Pass a bill.
The Senate passed a bipartisan immigration reform plan with 68 votes more than 500 days ago. That shows there's some agreement on both sides of the aisle that the system is in need of an overhaul. But the GOP-led House refused to take up the matter.
The president's action has temporarily ended the stalemate and injected a sense of urgency. "Every day we delay, our country and our economy suffer," he said. "Millions of families go on living in the shadows, without a chance to pay their taxes or do what's necessary to get on the right side of the law."
Obama's executive order spares nearly 5 million people in the U.S. illegally from deportation. Under the plan, the parents of children who are citizens or legal residents can apply to remain in the United States for up to three years, provided they can prove they have lived continuously in the United States for five years and pass a criminal background check.
Conservative pundits (notably Bill O'Reilly) say they were confident that House Republicans were going to come up with a workable solution and that the president unnecessarily inflamed tensions. Indeed, Obama's action has triggered a game of chicken. Republicans risk alienating the growing Latino vote by doing nothing. Worse, they risk all the political capital they gained in the midterms on the promise of being more productive and solutions-oriented.
The president resuscitated a rancorous Congress because he felt he had to do something about the 11 million people living in the margins. At a crossroads, we hope Republicans will choose the easiest and most beneficial course of action by rolling up their sleeves and passing a comprehensive immigration reform bill.