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In: Asheville Citizen-Times exit EPA
May 14, 2007

The Report Card issues grades A through F, and incompletes where necessary, to a variety of news items in this space. Got an idea that makes the grade? Send it to DRussell@CITIZEN-TIMES.com.

Our grades:
A: To Rep. Heath Shuler, D-Waynesville, for defusing a debate that could have imperiled Head Start funding. A bill passed increasing funding for the program, which helps low-income kids get ready for school, but not before Republicans proposed a change to the original 1972 Head Start law that would have allowed administrators to hire Head Start employees using religious preferences. Shuler’s amendment, according to The Associated Press, “confirms the rights of religious groups to participate in Head Start programs on the same basis of other organizations.’’ Rep. Shuler said, “As a young boy, I attended a Head Start program, and that helped make me the man I am today.”

A: To a team of Appalachian State University students who won a $75,000 award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for designing an affordable solar greenhouse. It was one of only six teams in the country to land a P3 award for sustainable energy solutions from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The greenhouse will allow farmers to power greenhouses with renewable energy by storing subsoil heat and using liquid foam insulation. To learn more about P3 and the award, go to http://www.epa.gov/ncer/p3

A: To the Genesis Alliance, which donated $35,000 to CARING for Children at its Mother’s Day luncheon. Genesis is a nonprofit that raises funds for agencies combating domestic violence and its subsequent fallout for families. At the luncheon, Daniel Diodata told his story of growing up in foster care and credited CARING for Children with helping him stay on track to finish high school and go on to college. Diodata said he wants to work for the agency after finishing college. The tale prompted state Rep. Bruce Goforth to arrange a full scholarship for Diodata at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

A: To Coleman Leopard, a Clyde fifth-grader who grabbed first place in the won the State Poster Contest in Raleigh. The contest, sponsored by the N.C. Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts with assistance from the Division of Soil and Water Conservation, featured entrants from all 100 N.C. counties. Leopard, a student in Angela Ray’s fifth-grade class at Clyde Elementary, won a total of $300 in competition with his poster, “Wetlands are Wonderful.’’ He’s the second state winner in three years from Haywood County; Central Elementary third grader Alexander Dinwiddie took top honors in 2005.

A: To the Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College’s food team for winning first place and a gold medal at the American Culinary Federation’s Student Team Southeast Regional Competition in Nashville, Tenn. The accomplishment puts the team into national competition for the second year running. The accolade secures the team’s place in the national competition for the second consecutive year. Team members are Jason Huang, captain, Daniel Gorman, Chambli Stuber, Michelle Bailey and Matt Gruber, with Kim Aasland as the alternate. Bronwen McCormick, Charles deVries and John Hofland serve as coaches. The gold medal the A-B Tech team one was the only one awarded this year in regional competition. The culinary reputation of A-B Tech in such competitions is to cooking what Tiger Woods is to golf.

D: How do you improve your grades in school? You can work harder, or you can copy a smart kid and hope you don’t get caught. How do you improve schools themselves? You can work harder or … well, you can copy and hope you don’t get caught. Caught last week was Washington, D.C. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, whose new education strategy for city schools contained about 8,000 words, or 32 percent of a 31-page document, liberally lifted from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools’ strategic plan. We’d give an F, but the Charlotte plan looks pretty good, and a chastened Fenty has learned a valuable lesson.

Copyright 2007 Asheville Citizen-Times. All rights reserved.

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