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Sunday, Feb 17 2013 11:00 PM

HITS & MISSES: But what about all those other big-buck boards?

By The Bakersfield Californian

MISS: Shannon Grove might fancy herself a reformer, but she looks more like a "revenger" based on the latest bill she has delivered to the state Assembly. Grove, R-Bakersfield, wants to put an end to the practice of allowing ex-legislators to join the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals within two years of leaving office. Her bill, AB 263, also would prevent board members from earning more than they made in the Assembly. Sounds reasonable so far, right? It would be if it banned appointments to all such commissions, many of them useless and well-paying, that leaders of both parties have long used to reward cooperative but termed-out (or defeated) legislators. But no, Grove's heat-seeking legislative missile is aimed solely at the unemployment appeals board where termed-out legislator Roy Ashburn of Bakersfield now sits.

Grove can't touch Ashburn himself, but she can certainly fire a brushback pitch in his direction. And what other purpose might she have to target only one commission? Well, there is last month's appointment by Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, of Assemblyman Michael Allen, D-Santa Rosa, who lost his re-election bid. He and Ashburn are now consoling themselves to the tune of $128,109 per year. Galling, sure, but why not go after all 17 of the highest-paying boards and commissions which cost the state more than $9 million in board salaries alone?

HIT: A new approach to bullying

A new program is tackling the issue of bullying at a level where it might be most effective -- by training students to come up with solutions and communicate them directly to their peers. Students from five Kern County high schools and one junior high are participating in the "Waking Up Courage" campaign. It is being administered by the Kern County Superintendent of Schools' anti-bullying partner Community Matters and is funded by a $74,000 grant from the State Farm Youth Advisory Board.

Students are trained to watch for and intervene when they witness bullying, including cyberbullying, and harassment in their schools. This sounds like a form of peer pressure that can provide some true benefits.

HIT: Hurray for the math club

If your teenager just has to have that new cellphone or iPad because his friends have one, here's something else they may want: a higher grade-point average.

A recent study found that high school students raised their grades when friends in their social networks also had higher grades. The study found a direct relationship between the grades of a student and those of his "friends." If a student entered into a social network where friends' grades were higher, that student's grades rose. We've believed it for a long time, but now we have a little research to back it up: Math club, debate team and Academic Decathlon are pretty cool.

HIT: An honor well-deserved

We applaud the decision of the Bob Elias Kern County Sports Hall of Fame to induct longtime Bakersfield College sports physician William F. Baker. A former BC football player, Dr. Baker has served as his alma mater's team doctor the past 35 years, and is one of the most recognized physicians in the community.

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