Lots of folks think that the Founding Fathers and the Revolutionary War heroes in Valley Forge secured our liberties, centuries ago.
Not true at all.
They secured their liberties — and we must do the same.
That’s why we’re so grateful that those founders and the generations who have followed them fought to give their descendants the tools we need to protect those liberties — one day at a time.
And one of the most important tools that has emerged from the revolutionary principles they laid down remains the Freedom of Information Act.
Consider two stories on the front page of today’s Roundup.
First, you’ll find a troubling story about the accumulation of complaints against two of the candidates running for Gila County sheriff.
Republican candidate Darrell Stubbs, whose service with the sheriff’s office stretches back 30 years, has amassed an unnerving number of complaints from both citizens and his superiors. Some of the complaints of rude, insubordinate, bullying behavior go back so far that the statute of limitations on harsh judgment has surely run out. On the other hand, some more recent complaints attest to such a consistent pattern of behavior that those early complaints seem relevant after all.
Meanwhile, Democratic candidate and sheriff’s deputy Ray Van Buskirk also has some disturbing letters in his file, including a case in which he reportedly stormed into a Globe home without permission, cursed the homeowner and illegally searched the house.
Now, the Roundup doesn’t make election endorsements. Our job remains digging up the facts and doing our level best to fairly reflect the positions of the candidates. Our readers can certainly make up their own minds, if they only have enough information. Fortunately, laws like the Freedom of Information Act assure the public access to that information — even if it lies buried in personnel records.
A second front-page story offers a similar lesson in the defense of liberty — and watch-dogging government — even the police department.
In that case, a Payson man is suing the Payson Police Department for allegedly beating him without cause in the course of an arrest. That lawsuit was filed in court — which means that it will proceed in the full light of day.
Today on the front page, the Roundup shed important light on that case after filing a Freedom of Information request that gave our reporter access to the police report. That report provided the account of the three officers involved in the case, together with things like the results of the blood alcohol test.
Of course, there’s one added ingredient.That would be you folks — newspaper readers. You pay our salaries and through your support ensure that if we do our jobs right, we’ll make those requests, report those stories — and give you the information you need as citizens.
So we’re grateful to the defenders of freedom all the way back to Valley Forge — and grateful as well to everyone who will still answer liberty’s call to arms.
No easy answers
The scores go down.
The grade goes up.
What the heck’s going on?
Today on the front page, we started a series of stories on how the students of the Payson Unified School District are doing on standardized tests in core academic subjects. So far, the effort has offered a fresh reminder of the complexity of the question — and the need for teachers, parents, students and administrators to remain alert, critical and flexible.
For instance, the new state grading system awarded Payson High School an “A,” mostly as the result of a heartening gain on standardized tests by the students having the greatest struggle to keep up. That’s great news and certainly an important measure of how well we’re doing.
However, as the article reveals, the question is more complicated than a single, label can reveal. Despite the gains for struggling students, the scores of the average student in most areas have declined over the past three years. Hmm — do you suppose that the Legislature’s $2 billion cut in K-12 spending might have an effect?
So we hope you’ll stick with us as we explore each school in turn. Neither parents or administrators should let oversimplified ratings get in the way of problem solving and reform.