Up to education committee, down to simple rankings

? Thumbs up for a new committee to study the state's obligation to fully fund public education. The committee, appointed last week by Gov. Christine Gregoire, is the result of a bill sponsored by Mercer Island's freshman senator, Brian Weinstein. The 12-member committee will study education in this state from early childhood through higher education and come up with an action plan to improve it, including legislative proposals.

? Thumbs down to a simplistic way of ranking excellent high schools. A recent Newsweek magazine story used a single ratio to determine the nation's top 100 high schools. The rankings are driven by the number of Advanced Placement tests taken by students from each school, divided by the number of graduating seniors. It ignores other criteria. Mercer Island High School did not make the list, but its students consistently rank at or near the top in the state on standardized tests, nearly all attend college and leave school equipped to take the next step in their lives.

? Thumbs up for the city's stormwater utility that carries rainwater runoff from roofs and hard surfaces to Lake Washington. Landslides caused by heavy rain were more common before the system was installed 10 years ago. Although there was a landslide on Forest Avenue two weeks ago, the system has made such landslides a rarity.

? Thumbs up for the Party Patrol, the King County Sheriff's Department's annual effort to curtail underage drinking and driving. The multi-jurisdictional patrol, which includes Mercer Island, began last weekend and will continue for several weeks. Since its inception in 1998, there have been no deaths or serious injury accidents involving juveniles and alcohol while the patrol was in operation.

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