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Ak-Sar-Ben Itself Merits Praise Along With King Dick And Queen Suzanne - 10-14-10

Come Election Day, White And Terry Can’t Duck Party Labels Any Longer - 10-07-10

Today, Second-Guessing Other Sports Commentators But Some Thoughts On Current Political Issues, Too - 09-30-10

Gates Gives Somber Non-Political Appraisals Of Iraq, Afghanistan - 09-23-10

At Last, A Prominent Moderate Muslim Speaks Out Against Muslim Terrorists - 09-16-10

Today, It’s All About College Football With Some “As I See It” Commentary - 09-09-10

Danes’ Sensible Approach To Immigration Won’t, Unfortunately, Fly In The U.S.A. - 09-02-10

Mosque Controversy Isn’t About Legal Rights; It’s About Moral Use Of Those Rights - 08-26-10

Time To Answer The Obvious Question: What Chance For Success In Afghanistan? - 08-19-10

Two-Paragraph News Story Offers Scary Prospect For World’s Future - 08-12-10

Outdated Constitutional Language Adds To Today’s Illegal Immigration Mess - 08-05-10

Not Wall Street But Democratic Policy Caused Mortgage Market Crash - 07-29-10

Windfarm Promoters Need More Facts, Less Rhetoric - 07-22-10

Nebraska Democrats’ ‘Find A Candidate’ Problem Began Long Months (Years?) Ago - 07-15-10

When The Subject Is Disasters,Obama Needs A History Lesson - 07-08-10

McChrystal’s Firing Spotlights Afghan War And The Slim Chance Of U.S. Victory There - 07-01-10

Advice For An Egocentric President: “I, I, I” Suggests One-Man Team - 06-24-10

Texas Decision Good For Big 12 But Even Better For The Longhorns - 06-17-10

Europe Is Sobering Up From 'Welfare' Binge; Obama-Led U.S. Moving Toward Similar Crises? - 06-10-10

A New Issue: Does ‘Don’t Ask/Don’t Tell’ Make Military Service Easier For Gays? - 06-03-10

Do State Officials Really Understand The Challenges Faced By Omaha Schools? - 05-27-10

Democrats Continue Cheap Shot Campaign Against Republican Congressman Lee Terry - 05-20-10

Cartoonist Koterba Says It Clearly: Don’t Put All The Blame On Schools - 05-13-10

Citizenship For Immigrants Is Inevitable But Start By Closing The Border - 05-06-10

Punish Wall Streeters If They Deserve It But Liberal Dems Spawned The Mortgage Mess - 04-29-10

Did Legislature, Speaker Mike Flood Deserve All Those Kind Words? - 04-22-10

Tiger Sulks His Way Through Masters— Is Obama Gambling On The Nuclear Issue? Rogue States And Terrorists Won’t Sign Up - 04-15-10

Did Obama/Pelosi ‘Sausage Factory’ Produce A Debt-Increasing Unpopular Health Plan? - 04-08-10

The Stories Behind Some Disturbing Headlines And Some Advice For Avoiding National Bankruptcy - 04-01-10

Four-Vote House Margin Makes Americans Swallow Trillion-Dollar Pill They Don't Want - 03-25-10

Insurance Pays 96% Of Family’s Cost For Seven Years Of ‘End Of Life’ Treatment - 03-18-10

President Angry Replaces President Cool; ‘ObamaCare’s’ Chances Helped Or Hurt? - 03-11-10

Americans To Get ‘ObamaCare’ Even If They Don’t Want It? - 03-04-10

Despite The Headlines, There’s Progress In Curbing Violence In North Omaha - 02-25-10

Corporate Expenditures Bad For Politics Except When They Benefit Liberal Candidates? - 02-18-10

Wind Energy Industry Faced Disaster; V.A. Hospital Not Personal Obama Choice - 02-11-10

Some Remarkable Legislative Comments And Some Questionable Media Performance - 02-04-10

When The Subject Is Nebraska Wind Energy, ‘Green’ Is The Color Of Money - 01-28-10

The “Teddy Kennedy Seat” Lesson Might Benefit Both Democrats and Republicans - 01-21-10

Some Legislative Issues—Like Gambling—Deserve Quick Death But Water Issues Deserve Careful Attention - 01-14-10

Today: ‘Big Daddy’ Government Wrong Again, And How Justified Is Cornhusker Title Talk? - 01-07-10

Dan Neary Worthy Of The Honor--
Today Some Upbeat Comments But "Obama Care" Debate Demands Attention
- 12-30-09

Even Without That Health Bill Vote, Another Term For Nelson Was Questionable - 12-23-09

Let’s Talk Football And Why Nebraska’s Suh Deserved The Heisman - 12-17-09

Image of Immigrants Would Be Helped By Less Cinco de Mayo, More 4th of July - 12-10-09

Image Of Islam Is Badly Damaged By ‘God-Approved’ Slaughter Of Non-Muslims - 12-03-09

Close Call For NU Research, Reputation; Thanksgiving Reminder: Count Your Blessings - 11-25-09

NU’s Reputation And Research Role Are Both At Stake When Regents Vote - 11-19-09

Obama’s ‘Yes We Can’
Changing To ‘Maybe We Can’t’?
- 11-12-09

Review The History Before Renaming A Street; Memories Of Sarah, Our Sweet Senior Dog - 11-05-09

“Socioeconomic Diversity” More Important Then Academic Achievement In “Learning Community”? - 10-29-09

A Visiting Sports Columnist Agrees: ‘There Is No Place Like Nebraska’ - 10-22-09

Might Obama Wish He Had A Chance To Say ‘No, Thanks’ To Early Nobel Prize? - 10-15-09

Don’t Overlook The Variety Of Aid Which Goes To ‘Poverty Level’ Families - 10-08-09

Smorgasbord Today: From UN’s “Nutcake Day” To Obama Performance Here And Abroad - 10-01-09

Must Defense Continue To Cover For Huskers’ Anemic Red Zone Offense? - 09-24-09

'Energizer Bunny' President Continues To Add Proposals For Reform - 09-17-09

Today, Variety: Football, Golf And Why No President Should Televise Himself Into The Nation’s Classrooms - 09-10-09

Massachusetts Gave Kennedy Significant Second Chances - 09-03-09

Obama’s Problem Not Just With GOP
But With A Great Many Americans
- 08-27-09

Tiger Could Use Sportsmanship Lesson—And Less Coverage From Fawning Media - 08-20-09

Gallup ‘Competitive’ Label, If Accurate Long Term, Is Good News Not Only For Nebraska Democrats - 08-13-09

Democrats Go All-Out Negative:
Trash Private Insurance Industry
- 08-06-09

Journalistic Watchdogs Turned Lapdogs When Obama Called That ‘News Conference’ - 07-30-09

Look Back, Mr. President: Opposition Is Catching Up - 07-23-09

Dem Lynch Mob Might Hang President’s Hopes - 07-16-09

Dems Start Oust-Terry Effort In The Political Gutter - 07-09-09

Despite Liberal Media's Views, Nation Better Served By Viable GOP - 07-02-09

A Varied Menu For You To Consider - 06-25-09

Freshman President Learning Some Political Realities? - 06-18-09

Voices Of Reason Raised Too Late To Slow Rush To Wind Power? - 06-11-09

Public Will Be Watching Prosecution Of Three Teen-Age Creatures - 06-04-09

Wealthiest Paying Less, In Taxes?
It’s Simply Not True
- 05-28-09

Notre Dame And Obama
Offer A Splendid Lesson
- 05-21-09

Special-Interest Liberals
Shouldn’t Badger Obama
- 05-14-09

A Surprising Source: Obama
Cites Positive Results of Iraq War
- 05-07-09

Media Transfer Their Love
From Candidate to President
- 04-30-09

Suttle Campaign Subtly Two-Faced? Or ‘Just Politics’? Voters Will Decide - 04-23-09

If America Is "At War
With Islam," It's Self-Defense
- 04-16-09

Seven Iowans Change Marriage
Tradition For 3 Million Others
- 04-09-09

Will Liberal Democrats Continue
Escaping The Verdict Of History?
- 04-02-09

Multi-Focused President
Upsets Even Liberals
- 03-26-09

Richard Nixon—Appropriate To Recall The Good As Well As The Dark Side - 03-19-09

Not Reducing Mortgage Costs; We’re Simply ‘Modifying’ Them - 03-12-09

Fair Warning From NY Times: Obama’s “Breathtaking Plans” Would “Transform American Society” - 03-05-09

A Look At Academy Awards Nastiness, But First A Plug For My Book, “Life With Marian” - 02-26-09

Let’s Not Move Slot Machine Cancer From Iowa Casinos To Nebraska Race Tracks - 02-19-09

Whiteclay Is Wrong Target;
Aim At Alcoholism Problem
- 02-12-09

For The Best “Stimulus” Formula:
Put Economic Recovery First;
“Remaking USA” Can Wait
- 02-05-09

Journalistic Hounds Are Still
In Full Pursuit Of Bush
- 01-29-09

‘First Black President’ Celebration
Shouldn’t Further Distract Us
From Job We And Obama Face
- 01-22-09

‘Adults In Wonderland’
Need To Get Real
- 01-15-09

Advice For Husker Fans:
Rejoice—But Be Realistic
- 01-08-09

Kennedy Dynasty History
Includes Shameful Chapters
- 12-31-08

Today Some Merry Christmas Thoughts But A Few Political Barbs, Too - 12-24-08

This Time It’s Indians
Who Break The Treaty
- 12-18-08

Me? A Grumpy Old Man?
One Reader Thinks So
- 12-11-08

Obama Steers A Moderate Course
But Congressional Democrats Veer Left
- 12-04-08

Too Many "Non-Blessings"
This Thanksgiving Week
- 11-26-08

Let’s Hear More About
The Principal ‘Crisis’ Victims
- 11-20-08

Color-Blind Issues Voting
Showed No Turn To The Left
- 11-13-08

Election Made History
But Big Questions Remain
- 11-06-08

Today, A Choice of Topics:
Politics Or Football—Or Both
- 10-30-08

Splitting Electoral Votes Good Idea? Then Why Do 48 States Reject It? - 10-23-08

Dems Take 11th Hour Low Road
In 2nd Congressional District Race
- 10-16-08

Another Government “Welfare Program,” Bargain Mortgages, Caused The Crisis - 10-09-08

Words Can Lose Their Meaning
When A Government Program Is Involved
- 10-02-08

—Have We Learned This Lesson?— Crisis Results When Individuals, Encouraged By Financial Institutions, Try To Live Beyond Their Means - 9-25-08

Bonds To Build Four-Lane Highways?
Where Would The Money Come From?
- 9-18-08

Today, a Large Load of Political
Commentary After a Brief Plug For
My Book, ‘Life With Marian’
- 9-17-08

Major News Media Look Bad
In Non-Coverage of
Edwards’ Sex Affair Story
- 9-11-08

Disadvantaged Students Can Be
Helped Without Discriminatory ‘Affirmative Action’
- 9-04-08

My Favorite Olympic Champion?
It Wasn’t Michael Phelps
- 8-28-08

Will Chinese Get Away With
'Out Air Is Clean' Scam?
- 8-21-08

Windmills, Solar Won't Do It;
Time To Get Real On Energy
- 8-07-08

I Doubt That God or Jesus
Have Heavenly Money on Either Team
- 8-07-08

‘Pop Star’ Obama Lacks Experience,
McCain Lacks Clear Campaign Strategy
- 7-31-08

Top Athletes Should
Know When to Quit?
- 7-24-08

Would Odor of Politics
Taint Fire Chief Choice?
- 7-17-08

Will Hospitality, Qwest Center
Lure Swim Trials Back to Omaha?
- 7-09-08

Omaha Stars Again
On National TV Stage
- 7-02-08

Omaha's CWS Reputation
Gets New "Rave Reviews"
- 6-25-08

S.D. Vote Could Lead
To National Abortion Battle
- 6-18-08

Don’t Let Niobrara Go The Way
Of The Republican And The Platte
- 6-11-08

Voters Didn’t Impose Term Limits
To Rid Legislature of Chambers
- 6-04-08

“It’s Our Turn” Pitch Might
Not End With Hillary Defeat
- 5-28-08

Prime Nebraska Political
Battleground This Year:
2nd Congressional District
- 5-21-08

The 'Browning' of America:
How Far Will It Go?
- 5-14-08

Obama ‘Stumbling’ To Victory? - 5-08-08

"Does Homebuyer Bailout
Reward the Irresponsible?"
- 4-30-08

"Was McCain, Not Clinton,
The Real Winner in Pennsylvania?"
- 4-25-08

"Cleaner Skies Advice For Gore:
Pressure On China, More Nuke
Power If Jane Fonda Will Allow It"
- 4-16-08

"Why The Big Fuss Over
Tiny Gasoline Cost Increase?"
- 4-09-08

"Quietly, Nebraska Yields
All-Public-Power Status"
-  4-02-08

"Obama’s ‘Historic’ Speech Left
Big Questions Unanswered "
-  3-25-08

"Overweight Moore Produces
“Sicko,” Finds An Ally In Creighton Doctor"
-  3-19-08

"Bush Sings, Praises Press
At Annual Gridiron Dinner"
-  3-12-08

"Obama Would Be Least
Formidable Opponent For McCain"
-  3-7-08

"‘Charisma’ Not Always a Good Thing" -  2-27-08

"Could Citizen ‘Packing Iron’
Have Stopped Von Maur Killings?"
-  2-20-08

"Obama’s Style Without Substance
Exciting, But Is It Presidential?"
-  2-13-08

"Barack Obama and John McCain:
A Major Contrast in Egos? "
-  2-07-08

"‘First Black President’
Emphasis Wouldn’t Help Obama"
-  1-30-08

"Kimball Lauritzen: Think of Her
As Joyous on Some New Dawn"
-  1-23-08

"What 'Tough' Election Contest
Was Ben Nelson Talking About?"
- 1-16-08

"Overhyped New Hampshire
Offsets Overhyped Iowa"
- 1-10-08

"Coach Bo Now Well Welcomed;
Time to Start Thinking of NU Wins"
- 1-2-08

"Words of Jews Most Moving
To Me This Christmas Season"
- 12-25-07

"AT LAST: TALK OF PREVENTION
JOINS MOURNING OVER KILLINGS"
- 12-19-07

"Killer Is Getting Just What He Wanted;
Let's Add Anger and
Action to Our Sorrow"
- 12-12-07

"Bo Brings Emotional Fire to NU Job;
Scary News: Huckabee Gain in Iowa"
- 12-05-07

"Callahan Outclasses Loudmouth Critics;
Tom Osborne Treated Him Fairly"
- 11-28-07

"A Thought for Thanksgiving Day:
Tell Them You Love Them"
- 11-21-07

"Callahan Critics: Is Loss to CU
The Only Way to Satisfy Them?"
- 11-16-07

"Crybaby Fans, Sports Commentators
Distracting Players From Their Job?"
- 11-09-07

"Did Bob Kerrey’s Decision Avoid
the Likelihood of Defeat?"
- 11-02-07

"Nosy Congress Makes
Three Bad Calls"
- 10-26-07

"Is This The Way to Run UNL´s
Athletic Program?"
- 10-19-07

"Right Decision Could
Help Both Fair, UNL"
- 10-12-07

"Stop Trying To Make God A Republican" - 10-6-07

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As I See It
Harold W. Andersen is a retired Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of the Omaha World-Herald Company. Full biography.

A number of you have told me that you don’t look forward to reading the column on your computer screen. That’s not necessary if you have a printer. Print out the column and take it with you to the breakfast table or wherever else you choose to read printed material. (You can also call up past columns in case you missed them.)

And, if you haven’t already done so, let us know your e-mail address so that we can send you a weekly reminder when a new column is available.

Do State Officials Really Understand
The Challenges Faced By Omaha Schools?

May 27, 2010

Nebraskans should hope that their governor—and very likely their governor for the next four years unless he decides to run for the Senate—is better informed on other serious problems of state government concern than he appears to be informed about the extraordinary problems facing inner city schools in the state’s largest city. 

With Heineman’s outspoken approval, the State Education Department has tarred a list of Nebraska schools with a “persistently lowest achieving” label. Included are four inner city Omaha high schools—North, Central, Benson and South.

It started with a Federal agency setting an arbitrary 60% graduation rate as the level below which a school would be considered “persistently lowest achieving” and thus eligible for Federal aid.  But as a condition of receiving Federal dollars, the local school officials would have to fire the principal and half the teaching staff or close the school.  (How you help a school by closing it hasn’t been explained.)

State Education Commissioner Roger Breed raised the graduation rate level to 75% for Nebraska schools in an effort to qualify more schools for Federal dollars, but at the price of firing the principal and half the teaching staff or closing the school.

This had the ludicrous effect of requiring the four inner city Omaha high schools to fire the principal and half the teaching staff or close the school to qualify for federal funds.

One wonders if the governor, vigorously defending the policy against criticism by Omaha Public Schools Superintendent John Mackiel, realizes that (1) accepting the federal money would require four Omaha high schools (including two of the state’s best, Omaha Central and Omaha North) to fire the principal and 50% of the teaching staff or close the school and (2) Omaha Public School Superintendent John Mackiel does not contend that “money will solve all our problems,” as Heineman recently charged in a strongly-worded criticism of Mackiel. 

A good many Nebraskans, including Mackiel and Omaha School Board members, better understand the extraordinary problems faced by the Omaha Public Schools—problems pointed up by Omaha World-Herald cartoonist Jeff Koterba in a drawing and 17 words, simple enough that anyone in the Nebraska Statehouse should be able to understand it.  (Koterba’s recent cartoon on the subject is reprinted again here today.  Of course, Jeff Koterba is open-minded and follows the issues carefully before going public with his views.)

Omaha North (which is a better high school today than when I graduated from it in 1941) is an example of a school which Governor Heineman and State Education Commissioner Roger Breed have, in effect, targeted as unworthy of federal aid unless Principal Gene Haynes and half the teaching staff is fired or the school is closed. 

Do either Heineman or Breed understand the extraordinary challenges faced by a school located as North is and the extraordinary measures which are being taken—with considerable prospects for success—without any help at all from the state or federal governments? 

Omaha North is in the second year of cooperating with University of Nebraska-Lincoln in a partnership to give a group of North students academic support to get through high school and then be given full ride financial support to attend the university. 

Also at Omaha North, the Omaha School District’s high school engineering magnet program is moving to a privately-financed three-story $8 million building which will house the school’s Lead the Way pre-engineering program.  North is one of nine schools in the country to offer the biotechnology portion of the national engineering curriculum.   

Is this the kind of school that Governor Heineman and Education Commissioner Breed believes should be either shut down or have its principal and half of its staff fired in order to qualify for federal funding? 

Fortunately, a Nebraskan familiar with the extraordinary problems facing the Omaha School District is willing to back the district with philanthropic funds if district officials refuse to discharge competent school principals and teachers in order to qualify for federal grants.

If the Heineman-approved eligibility-for-federal-funds standards are rejected by the Omaha School District, Superintendent Mackiel said, Susie Buffett’s Sherwood Foundation has pledged the same amount for teacher training.  In the case of North and Central, this private funding wouldn’t be necessary if Commissioner Breed, with Governor Heineman’s approval, hadn’t raised the federal funding graduation-rate standards to 75%.  Omaha North’s graduation rate is reported as 69.9% and Central’s at 70.3%--remarkably high in view of the extraordinary challenges facing inner city schools. 

I have written on occasion that John Mackiel has the toughest job in Nebraska.  He deserves cooperation, not criticism, for resisting a Nebraska state government policy which would require him to fire the principals and half the teaching staffs or close four inner city high schools in order to qualify for federal funds.

* * *

Huskers Far Ahead Of Big 10 Teams
In Number Of Academic All-Americans

Enough heavy lifting.  Let’s turn to a question which is of considerable public interest and discussion which has led to some conclusions with which I certainly disagree.

I speak of the continuing sports page commentary which, here in Nebraska, has some commentators apparently believing that University of Nebraska-Lincoln officials, with strong majority support from Husker fans, should and would jump at the opportunity to be included in an expanded Big 10 athletic conference. 

In the first place, I don’t know of any evidence that a majority of Husker football fans are as enthusiastic about Big 10 membership for Nebraska as are some sports commentators.  In the second place, I think some of the commentators’ arguments are at least questionable if not clearly irrational.  (I was tempted to say “silly.”)

As to what seems to me to a clearly irrational argument:  One commentator says Nebraska would surely accept an invitation from the Big 10—composed entirely of members of the prestigious Association of American Universities—because it would give Nebraska greater “academic prestige.” 

Well, in the first place, Nebraska is also a member of the Association of American Universities, a status totally unrelated to membership in any particular athletic conference. 

Then there is an additional consideration, relating directly to the matter of academic achievements of athletes—a factor which should carry considerable weight whatever conference you belong to.

Nebraska athletes have been awarded “Academic All-American” recognition in greater numbers than the athletes from any other American college or university.

A total of 271 Husker athletes have produced academic records earning them honors as “Academic All-Americans.”  Notre Dame is in second place, having produced 214 such athletes.  The best the Big 10 can do is third-place Penn State with a total of 162—40% fewer Academic All-Americans than the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has produced. 

Behind Penn State in the top 10 are the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, with 161 Academic All-Americans, Stanford with 140, Augustana College in Illinois with 132, Bucknell with 119, Texas with 118, Emery with 114 and UCLA with 113. 

Eight other Big 10 schools make the top 25, ranging from Ohio State in 13th place with 106 Academic All-Americans to Illinois with 89.  Ranking below the top 25 are two Big 10 schools—Indiana with 76 Academic All-Americans and Iowa with 68.

The Big 10 is, after all, primarily an athletic conference, and in the matter of “academic prestige” in an athletic conference, what should carry more weight than the fact that the University of Nebraska-Lincoln student athletes have compiled a far better record than any Big 10 school. 

Hawkeye Fans Looking To Avenge Past Losses?

Another journalistic commentator started with the questionable assumption that all sorts of Nebraska fans are pulling for the Huskers to join the Big 10.  (I know of no soundly-based poll of public opinion which indicates that a strong majority—or a majority at all—of Huskers fans are eager for the Huskers to join the Big 10.)

This sports commentator reported on a luncheon discussion with two Cornhusker fans and three other Omahans who are University of Iowa Hawkeye fans.  The report was that there was general agreement among this little band of football fans that they would welcome a Nebraska entry into the Big 10 because that would mean the Iowa Hawkeyes and the Nebraska Cornhuskers would meet on the football field every year.

There was a reference to the last time the Hawkeyes and the Huskers met, in 1999 and 2000.  There was no report of the scores.  I can tell you (an “As I See It Exclusive”) that the Huskers beat the Hawkeyes 42-7 in Iowa City in 1999 and 42-13 in Lincoln in 2000.

The Huskers and the Hawkeyes played a number of times over the years, starting in the second year of UNL football history in 1891.  (Iowa won, 22-0.) 

Over the years, Nebraska won 13 times, Iowa 5 times and two games ended in ties.

It would be understandable that some Hawkeye fans are anxious for the rivalry to resume through Nebraska membership in the Big 10.  Their motive presumably would be revenge. 

* * *

Anonymous Free Speech Has Its Limitations

It was inevitable that there be occasional legal challenges to the anonymous internet delivery of insults and some times serious accusations.  There is a sort of “twitter” mentality not supported by the courage to be publicly identified with the e-mail message.

Pennsylvania’s attorney general is demanding that Twitter unmask two of its users.  He argues that the subpoena relates to a criminal case. 

The attorney general’s subpoena was quickly attacked by “advocacy groups.”  An official of the Public Citizen Litigation Group declared, “Anonymous speech is a long-standing American right.” 

I suppose that assertion is based on the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. 

But it seems to me that the constitutional guarantee is most logically and legally applied when the freedom of speech is exercised by a person who has the courage of his convictions and is willing to be publicly identified as the source of that free speech when challenged.

* * *

That’s Right: She Is A ‘Very Nice Lady’

Closing on the customary upbeat note:

Over the years I have had occasion to comment on the fact that a friendly, warm personality is one of the winning characteristics of my roommate for the past 58 years.  A recent example:

On our way to a flight to Chicago, Marian was first past the security checkpoint where you show your driver’s license and your boarding pass. 

I followed shortly thereafter, and the woman who was checking credentials said something like:  “You must be the husband of the woman who just went by.”  I agreed that this was the case. 

“A very nice lady,” the security officer said, an appraisal based on what must have been less than 60 seconds of conversation with my roommate.

# # #

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