Wisdom from the mouths of babes
The Anniston Star
In our opinion
06-06-2006

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This space, as any frequent visitor can attest, cares a great deal about reforming Alabama's Constitution. Why? Because all sensible Alabamians know it severely limits Alabama its people, its functions of government, its learning institutions, its businesses.

Untie our hands from the bindings of the 1901 Constitution which was created to protect the interests of the wealthy and to oppress African-Americans and there's no telling how far we can go.

Friends of constitutional reform, take heart. A youth movement agrees with us. It's right there in The Star's Graduation Special 2006 publication.

"What would you change if you could?" was the question posed to many of the region's top high school grads. The responses offer hope that these young people get it.

One says, "I would increase funding for educational purposes." Another wishes to "develop new industry in the area."

A Lineville grad would "make sure everyone had the medication and health care they need." One young woman adds, "I would bring in more businesses to help us grow and improve." A Saks graduate "would make the community more open-minded." A Piedmont grad wishes "that people would be more tolerant of differences between them."

"I would allocate a portion of large business owners' income to a fund for helping schools," says an honors graduate. A Woodland grad says, "Education shouldn't have to be limited because of a lack of money."

Thank you very much, Class of 2006.

With so many of them recently coming through the crumbling structures we call public schools, it's no wonder they wish for more funds for their dear old alma mater. Many also see the connection between first-rate education and economic development, and demonstrate an appreciation for diversity, as well.

Funny, too, how none of the recent high school grads fretted over protecting the special interests in Montgomery, the usual suspects that have always found a way to sink reform.

When these recent grads were third-graders, this page wrote of the 1901 Constitution, "So why do we keep this cumbersome document? Because the powers that be in Alabama want to keep it. "

When they were fourth-graders, we noted, "Alabama's Constitution is a massive thing that keeps us in a perpetual state of confusion."

The Star advised, "Cut the power of the special interests and get yourself a better state," when these grads were in the sixth grade.

During their seventh-grade year, we wrote, "Alabama can do better, but only if we can reform this broken old document."

"Although many of the sins of 1901, such as the poll tax, have been struck down, the transgression, the bad joke of 100 years ago, continues today," The Star wrote as these students were wrapping up eighth grade.

They were sophomores as Gov. Bob Riley's Amendment 1 reform package was put up for a vote. "If you are tired of a big mule-run state claiming all sort of Christian virtues while it rips off the poor and underprivileged, vote for the Riley plan," is how The Star framed the debate, which would eventually be won (at least at the polls) by the side of non-progress.

As these grads neared the end of their senior year, this space noted how "local power, instead of being in the hands of local officials, is bottlenecked in Montgomery."

Let's hope the desires of the Class of 2006 — a better state government and a better state — are closer to reality by the time they finish college.

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