Missions accomplished in 2010
As the editorial board puts together its wish list for 2011, we thought we'd take a look back at our hopes for 2010 and see how we fared. We weren't so lucky with some of our requests: Congress didn't pass comprehensive immigration reform, the U.S. Senate didn't pass a climate bill that puts a price on carbon emissions, and newspaper circulation didn't spike.
But some of our wishes were granted. At the start of 2010 we asked for…
California's Legislature and governor to finally get real about the prison crisis and approve a sensible plan for reducing the inmate population without endangering the public.
We got part of this one. Last January, state corrections officials started implementing new parole rules, removing low-level offenders from supervision and ending the practice of returning ex-cons to prison for technical parole violations such as missed drug tests. California's overly tight parole rules are a big part of the reason the state has the nation's highest recidivism rate, so it was a very important reform. But lawmakers, terrified of being labeled "soft on crime," still haven't imposed other changes recommended by criminal justice experts for decades, such as reforming the state's sentencing rules and boosting drug rehabilitation and job training programs.
Plenty of rainfall and a healthy snowpack.
The L.A. Unified School District to get to work implementing the grand reforms it has announced: better evaluation of teachers, turning around Fremont High, and fairly and apolitically arranging for the takeover of perhaps 250 new and failing schools by outside managers.
LAUSD has at least been making progress. It is proposing reasonable new ways of evaluating teachers that include but don't overemphasize standardized test scores. If only United Teachers Los Angeles would get past its early negotiations rhetoric and help solve this. Fremont High is showing some improvement on scores. And the district has set up more stringent rules for its second round of the Public School Choice initiative, which will give outside operators a shot at running some district schools. These all represent good efforts; we'll check back in six months to look for results.
Markham Middle School in Watts to find -- and be allowed to hire -- enough qualified teachers for all of its openings.
No schools are being made whole in these bad financial times, but the court settlement now being considered by the judge on staffing Markham and other low-performing schools should help protect teacher jobs there.
Another championship for the Lakers.
Score! Here's hoping for another stellar season, though the Lakers seem to be having trouble capturing that magic thus far.
State lawmakers to keep their hands off Los Angeles County welfare, foster care and senior services funding.
An end to “don’t ask, don’t tell.”
Another victory (not to mention the subject of one of Obama's most moving speeches to date.) Next up: Employment Non-Discrimination Act and Defense of Marriage Act.
A new approach by Washington to regulating the banking industry. Instead of providing a backstop to companies deemed too big to fail, we'd like Congress to create mechanisms that enable troubled companies to go bankrupt without endangering the entire financial system.
Lawmakers passed a lengthy, complex bill that's a mixed blessing. The measure still relies heavily on regulators to detect financial crises in the making –- something that they've never done well -- and to dismantle troubled Wall Street firms before they become too big to be allowed to fail. Its most important structural protection –- the so-called Volcker Rule prohibiting banks to make risky investments with their own capital –- was watered down en route to the president's desk. But it also provides new protections for consumers against predator and unfair behavior by lenders, banks and credit card companies.
A reality show in which contestants compete to expand their knowledge rather than reduce their waistlines. Call it "The Biggest Reader."
Though we didn't get "The Biggest Reader," we were lucky to get a reality show with substance thanks to the Sundance Channel's "Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys" about the very real friendships shared between straight women and gay men.
Passage of a comprehensive healthcare reform bill that slows the increase in costs, sharply reduces the number of uninsured and improves the quality of care.
The controversial Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that passed without a single Republican vote doesn't go as far as we would have liked to see in controlling costs. And its approach to insurance reform –- requiring insurers to issue policies to all applicants regardless of preexisting conditions, but also requiring all American adults to obtain coverage -– triggered a divisive political and legal fight that still rages. Yet the measure laid the foundation for a sustainable approach to medical treatment, one that fixes the flawed incentives in the system and promotes higher quality care.