Notes on ‘The State’ of things

Notes on ‘The State’ of things

“The State” has gotten testy and intellectually dishonest in its coronavirus pandemic dealings. And we are forced to wonder if this has become the new normal.

When several Pennsylvania counties (including neighboring Beaver County) defied Gov. Tom Wolf’s illogical and inconsistent color-coded operating regimen, the governor referred to the action as “cowardly.” He threatened to withhold federal “stimulus” dollars and unleash the Certification/Licensure Revocation Monster.

Independence and taking care of one’s self is “cowardly.” Dependence on “The State” must not cease. This has become the new “normal” among those who cannot countenance “the people” re-taking charge of their lives and livelihoods.

Along those same testy and intellectually dishonest lines, “The State” continues to refuse to come clean about its miserable waiver program that picked winners and losers, as in “essential businesses” allowed to operate and “non-essential businesses” left to financially rot.

While it did release the list of those granted waivers (but only after considerable public and legislative pressure), conveniently omitted were the applications themselves and the decision-making process involved.

Was a dartboard used? Were friends given preferential treatment? Did friends of friends benefit friends of other friends? Who knows? Well, the government knows. But, SHHHHHHH! It’s a “State” secret!

And given some of the businesses that received waivers – such as a taxidermist and a comic book shop – it’s clear little rhyme and no reason prevailed in the process.

Simply put, that’s not acceptable. But, then again, government types covering up their machinations is nothing new.

The scope of those waiver-related machinations was exposed in a recent Spotlight PA dispatch. And the word “despicable” immediately comes to mind.

In the hours before the waiver list was made public, the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), which administered the program, informed some businesses that had received waivers that their state permissions had been rescinded.

The businesses were given no explanation and their names were excluded from the list. Why? And why?

The DCED long has been a dishonest and unaccountable broker. Post-pandemic, the Legislature should throw cold water on the hot mess that the DCED is.

Pittsburgh Public Schools has hit a new low.

Already filled to the brim with thousands of students lacking proficiency in the most basic academic areas – think reading, think mathematics – the school board now is considering a move that would lower academic eligibility requirements for student-athletes and those involved in some extracurricular activities.

Athletes now must maintain a 2.0 grade point average to participate. The new proposal would allow students with a 1.0 gpa to play sports but require them to participate in “academic intervention” programs, i.e. tutoring.

Get a load of this critical thinking, from school board President Sylvia Wilson: She says the minimum grade point average had been set at 2.0 because too many athletes were “not succeeding.”

As the Tribune-Review reported it, “The district wanted to set higher standards — but there was no intervention program to help them, Wilson said.”

So, you lower the academic standards and supposedly add some kind of nod-nod, wink-wink tutoring program whose details haven’t even been created?

What, a tutoring program could not have been adopted under the existing, tougher minimum grade point standard?

What kind of sham operation are public schools in Pittsburgh? Obviously, a very big one.

Colin McNickle is communications and marketing director at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).