Religion in the Classroom; A Right?

Brownby Christina Brown

According to the First Amendment, everyone has the right to religious freedom, everyone can cherish one’s god in his or her own way, everyone can freely speak of their religion. Somehow, public schools have gone against the right to have freedom of religion within its walls. The children, kindergarten to fifth grade, the preteenagers, sixth grade to eighth grade, and the teenagers, freshmen to senior, all have the right of religion taken away for eight hours five days a week. Why do schools believe they have the power to monitor what is said about religion within the halls and Read More

Is Standardized Testing Effective?

Loveby Alex Love

Our state and national government requires standardized testing to gauge our children’s academic success. Often times, students are compared to one another due to the same test being administered to their fellow classmates. This notion poses a question; how fair is it to give a test to all students when no one child is the same?

Every child has his or her own strengths, weaknesses, and personalities. How fair is it to rely so heavily upon testing success to determine the future of our children? Standardized tests scores are used to show where a student is academically–exceeding, meeting, or Read More

Understanding Illinois: School Aid Formula Should Return to Roots

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Over the past two decades, the state school aid formula for local schools in Illinois has moved away from its roots of trying to reduce the gap in total dollars between property poor and property rich school districts.

Downstate districts tend to have been the losers in this shift.

Downstate senator Andy Manar (D-Bunker Hill) has initiated efforts to refocus the distribution formula on “equalization” (in quotes because nobody expects the state to be able to make all districts actually equal in basic spending). Read More

An Introduction to the Moultrie County Farm Bureau

Kinney_Kara OP 08 (2)Submitted by Kara Kinney
MCFB Manager

The Moultrie County Farm Bureau was formed in 1919. As the largest and most effective organization representing Illinois farmers, their mission is clear – “To improve the economic well-being of agriculture and enrich the quality of farm family life.” The Moultrie County Farm Bureau is affiliated with the Illinois Farm Bureau. In fact, as a member of Moultrie, they are also a member of the Illinois Farm Bureau.

We are a membership organization. We have two classes of membership, voting and associate. Voting members are those that have interest in a farm or farm business. Associate members are members who take advantage of our great benefits. Farm Bureau members are involved in efforts to:

Read More

April Showers and Garden Checklists

KimForColumnby Kim Riedel
NP Columnist

In a quest to survive this past dreary and cold winter, I kept myself busy with some different ideas, plans and discoveries.

My curiosity about aquaponics sent me to books, You Tube, and asking several people for guidance to find out more information.

Aquaponics is the process of growing plants in a soilless media such as hydroponics but uses the nutrients from the fish tank to fertilize the plants rather than having fertilizer or other additives added to the water as in hydroponics.  The fish fertilize the plants, and the plants clean the water for the fish.  The fish and plants work together so the water can be recycled indefinitely (unless it evaporates).  You should be able be grow more plants in less space than a regular garden, and plants should grow faster and larger. It should be a fun experiment.  Read More

Warmer Weather Brings Reminder of CodeRED Service in Moultrie

by Angela Hogan, RN MSPH
Administrator, Mo. Co. Health Dept.

As I sit here on this cold day in late March with snow on the ground (again), it is hard to imagine that in four months our current temperature will be tripled to 90 degrees Fahrenheit! What is not so hard to imagine is the storms that will ensue between now and then. That is why I would like for everyone to sign up for CodeRED. Read More

Tax on Millionaires Bad Idea

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

On first blush, the proposal by Illinois Speaker of the House Michael Madigan to impose a three percent tax surcharge on income greater than $1 million sounds like a relatively painless (for most of us, certainly) way to raise about $1 billion for education.

On second blush, it’s a bad idea for at least these reasons:

First, The proposal reinforces the widely held perception by business that Illinois has an unpredictable and unstable fiscal system. Read More

It’s Just Golden…a Soft Spot for a Hard Shell

Golden Column Photoby John Golden
NP Columnist

Ah finally, spring is here and nicer weather is stubbornly and nonchalantly approaching. When I stop and think about sunshine, green grass, and dandelions, I am instantly taken back to my childhood and my days spent on my dad’s farm.

When I think about my dad’s old place, I start to think about the small pond that was tucked away in the far corner of the property. It was basically a mud pit, infested with huge and extremely loud frogs, gigantic and overly aggressive dragonflies, and disgusting and territorial snakes.  Read More

Understanding Illinois: Ballot Petition Drives in Home Stretch

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

The young man was shivering from the bitter cold. He stood at a busy entrance to Union Station in Chicago, competing for good space with newspaper boys and panhandlers. Busy commuters rushed by him, preoccupied with getting back to the suburbs.

The fellow asked politely when he could fleetingly make eye contact with a passerby: Mister, would you like to sign a petition to reform redistricting in Illinois? Read More

Understanding Illinois:Specialty Crop Growers Boost Rural Economy

NowlanBy Jim Nowlan
Outside Columnist

Rural Illinois is hurting. Rural and small town Illinois lost 12 percent of its population of persons under age 44 in the decade 2000-2010, according to the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs!

Neighboring state rural populations declined as well, but only by half as much as in Illinois. No one seems to know why Illinois’ rural population fell by so much, but I am guessing one reason is that our big flatland farm operations grew significantly in size, as 24-row corn planters reduced the need for farmers.

I visited recently with Lyndon and Kimberley Hartz of Wyoming, IL about their 10-acre, intensively farmed specialty crop operation, which supports them and pays for five full-time employees in the summer. Read More