Fort Wayne Journal Gazette. September 16, 2023.
Editorial: More guns, more problems and our growing unease in public spaces
Two personal disputes this summer got a lot of attention, not because they ended in shootings but because of where those shootings occurred: Glenbrook Square. In both incidents, one man shot another in the leg. Suspects have been arrested in both incidents.
Thankfully, neither shooting proved fatal, and no bystanders were injured. But there are ripple effects every time someone in Fort Wayne is shot. And when the shooting happens during business hours in northeast Indiana’s largest mall, the damage goes well beyond the suffering of the victim.
These were not, thank goodness, random attacks by would-be mass killers. That is cold comfort to shoppers in the moments after gunfire erupts in a place where gunfire should never be heard.
“There are innocent bystanders around,” notes Paul Helmke, the former Fort Wayne mayor and a professor of practice at Indiana University’s O’Neill School of Public and Environmental Affairs. “It’s not going to matter to you if you’re shot by somebody who’s just a random mass shooter or somebody who’s just a bad shot who’s dealing with a personal spat.”
In both incidents, shoppers and employees were forced to shelter in place or flee, and the mall was closed for the balance of the day. It is impossible to guess how much revenue retailers lost, or how many customers might not soon return.
“This to me is a consequence of having a state policy saying, ‘Let’s get more loaded guns in more places,’ ” said Helmke, a nationally known advocate for sensible gun laws. “You put more loaded guns into more hands, you’re going to have these situations.”
But rational restrictions on how guns are acquired or who gets to carry them are not possible in today’s Indiana. We must find other ways to protect our city and its private and public institutions.
One suggestion: More of what’s already in place.
It’s encouraging to see that Glenbrook’s management has been working with law enforcement to improve safety by increasing the number of off-duty police working security at the mall and installing more security cameras. The mall already prohibits weapons on its premises.
Guns-for-all advocates say such rules creating “gun-free zones” attract crazed armed people who could kill without fear of being stopped by a “good guy with a gun.” For argument, let’s accept the premise that mad, often suicidal killers make such rational calculations. And let’s acknowledge that on occasion, an armed, competent private citizen is on the scene to stop the killer. The young man who confronted and killed a mass shooter at Indiana’s Greenwood Park Mall, for instance, was rightly hailed a hero.
But the chance that a random “good guy” saves the day must be balanced against the possibility of collateral damage to bystanders or the creation of a dangerous distraction for trained police officers. Enforcing rules to keep guns out of vulnerable institutions – coupled with more well-trained security officers or police on such premises – might offer a better chance of success. It’s an approach that has worked for airports, courthouses and, ironically, the Indiana Statehouse.
Rather than hide them in the fine print, Glenbrook and other private institutions with no-gun rules should consider displaying them boldly – even noting their presence in promotional materials. Today, visitor and employee safety has become a marketable commodity.
Such programs might be boosted if the legislature tweaked the laws to make it a crime to enter a no-weapons establishment carrying a gun. Right now, it’s only a rude and oafish thing to do – though such an oaf can be asked to leave.
Quality of life, that secret sauce of a successful city, means fine parks and running trails and broad options for education, enlightenment and entertainment. But it also means police, business operators and other citizens doing everything we can to preserve a sense of safety at Glenbrook and the other places where people and families gather.
Anderson Herald Bulletin. September 15, 2023.
Editorial: IREAD-3 scores on the rise
A team effort succeeded in raising the majority of area public school districts’ scores from the annual Indiana Reading Evaluation and Determination (IREAD-3) assessment, a test given to measure foundational reading skills among the state’s third graders.
A common thread could be seen in comments from local educators — teamwork among educators, students and the community.
We commend our educators for fighting the uphill battle to recover what educational progress was lost during the COVID-19 pandemic with the lack of in-classroom instruction.
The students, as well, deserve recognition for overcoming a setback that is unprecedented in recent generations of children. For over a year, most of these kids experienced education at kitchen tables with parents, grandparents and babysitters helping out as best they could.
And those folks deserve a hand as well. While the bulk of education takes place at school, there is no substitute for support from parents and guardians at home.
Among Madison County districts, South Madison led the way, with 94% of its third graders passing the assessment, compared to 86.4% last year.
“This accomplishment is a testament to all the hard work that our students, staff and community put in every year,” said Valerie Steger, principal at Maple Ridge Elementary School.
Among the county’s individual elementary buildings, Maple Ridge had the highest pass rate on the assessment, 97.9%
Administrators at Anderson Community Schools attributed improvements both districtwide and at five of six elementary schools to smaller class sizes and healthy parental support.
ACS Superintendent Joe Cronk said district leaders are encouraged by the overall improvement on IREAD-3, but more work remains to be done.
State education leaders said continued improvement will be needed to achieve their stated goal of seeing 95% of students pass IREAD-3 by 2027.
If that goal is to be achieved, our local schools seem to have found the formula for success — a collaborative and cooperative effort between students, teachers and parental guardians.
Kokomo Tribune. September 13, 2023.
Editorial: Add new COVID shot to your to-do list
It’s the time of year when many Americans head to their local pharmacy or health center and get their annual flu shot. For most, it’s a no-brainer and a must-have each fall.
But add to your list this year the new COVID vaccine, which could be available as early as this week. Much like flu shots get updates each year, the COVID vaccine offers a new recipe, and the revamped shots specifically target an omicron subvariant named XBB.1.5.
The COVID vaccines offered previously only targeted the original coronavirus strain and an earlier version of omicron.
The new shots are recommended for those who have had previous COVID shots and first-timers. For those who have previous vaccinations and infections, experts are concerned that immunity is fading in many people.
On Monday, the FDA approved the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines while the Novavax shot remains under review.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone age 6 months and older be given the vaccine in an effort to save lives. According to the Associated Press, COVID is still causing thousands of hospitalizations and deaths in the U.S. each week.
The hard work now becomes getting Americans to get the vaccine. In a survey in August that the CDC cited, 42% of people interviewed said they would definitely or probably get the new vaccine, while only 20% of adults got an updated booster when it was offered last year.
While COVID vaccines are expected to cost more than $100 per person, the good news is that the new shots will be free to most Americans through their insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
The other good news is that the CDC stated there is no difference in effectiveness nor side effects for those who get both the COVID and flu vaccines simultaneously. However, officials did say getting a vaccine in each arm may be more comfortable.
The best time to get vaccinated is by the end of October, according to the CDC, which makes now the perfect time.
Check in with your pharmacy of choice or health care official and make sure the updated vaccines are available. Then, set an appointment to get both the COVID and flu vaccines taken care of — to protect both yourself and each other.