Thumbs down to enlisting teachers as crossing guards. A shortage of crossing guards has prompted the Janesville School District to call on teachers and aides to take over some guard duties. The city traditionally hires crossing guards, but Police Chief Dave Moore asked Superintendent Steve Pophal to help fill some positions this year. Protecting students at busy intersections is important, but the job shouldn't fall to teachers. They deserve those precious minutes before school starts and after it ends to focus on their students and prepare lesson plans. Diverting a teacher's attention away from the classroom should be avoided if at all possible. A better solution would be to pay crossing guards more money so positions don't go unfilled.
Thumbs up to restricting cellphone use while driving. Our editorial Sunday backs Edgerton High School's decision to ban cellphones from classrooms, and we also support a Wisconsin man's effort to keep drivers off their phones. Thomas Goeltz successfully lobbied the Minnesota Legislature to enact a hands-free law that took effect Aug. 1. He pushed for the law after an alleged distracted driver killed his pregnant daughter in a 2016 crash in Minnesota. Goeltz now is pushing for Wisconsin to become the 19th state to limit cellphone use while driving to hands-free setups. Many drivers believe they're terrific multitaskers, but the statistics indicate otherwise. A rise in the number of crashes linked to distracted driving should motivate the Wisconsin Legislature to embrace Goeltz's initiative.
Thumbs down to the Legislature undermining the attorney general. Our worst fears about a law passed during last year's lame-duck session are coming true. Instead of acting as expediently as possible, Attorney General Josh Kaul must now get approval from the GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee to settle lawsuits. Predictably, many lawsuits are languishing. Wisconsin voters didn't sign up for this level of interference when they elected Kaul in November. Attorneys general traditionally have been given wide latitude to resolve cases, a complicated enough process without subjecting settlements to a committee vote. This law acts as gum in the state's legal machine, serving little purpose but to advance legislators' partisan agendas.
Thumbs up to farmers sticking up for themselves. Many farmers are starting to wake up to the destructive effects of some of President Trump's policies, and they're drawing a line in the corn field over a recent administration decision to waive requirements for 31 oil refineries to blend ethanol into their gasoline. Ethanol is made from corn, and the fuel's use affects demand for the crop. The benefits of ethanol and the government's Renewable Fuel Standard are debatable, but our point here is that farmers are finally defending their self-interests. They realize the refinery waivers will push down crop prices, just as Trump's trade war with China has done. Many farmers still support the trade war, but that might change as more farms teeter toward bankruptcy.