Friday, April 21, 2000 Missoulian Editorial YEA: Maybe you read about the 21-year-old Army recruit in Kalispell who turned his 2 feet of hair into locks of love this week.

According to the Associated Press account, a Kalispell barber snipped off Erik Anderson's hair in favor of an Army crew cut, and Anderson donated his hair to the Locks of Love program. The charity provides hairpieces for children who lose their hair due to illness, usually cancer.

Anderson started growing his hair three years ago, around the time the organization was created. He said he learned about Locks of Love a couple of months ago and immediately decided to donate his hair, which would soon fall to an Army barber anyway.

It's for a good cause, he said. His recruiter, Sgt. 1st Class Monty Stobart, applauded Anderson's gesture, and said he will recommend to his superiors that the Army adopt the program.

"We do cut a lot of people's hair off," he said.

YEA: Tomorrow is Earth Day, and Montanans will be volunteering to help their own pieces of the planet. A salute to those who care and who give of their time and expertise and muscle.

Montana is still grappling with lots of environmental concerns, problems and pollution - in Butte, along the Clark Fork River, in community water supplies and in the state's forests.

But here's one national view, presented this past week in a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute: Environmental progress since that first Earth Day 30 years ago has been extraordinary. Two members of the panel - Gregg Easterbrook of the New Republic and Steven Hayward of the Pacific Research Institute - noted that smog is down, more lakes are safe to fish in, air pollution in big cities is much less of an issue, and lead is virtually gone from the air.

Easterbrook, Hayward and others also noted that Americans are leading the world in cleaning up past mistakes and avoiding new ones, and that the United States can help other countries develop economically without ruining their pieces of the planet.

NAY: Who is passing out some tough grades for higher education these days? Students themselves. College classrooms are overly politicized, grade inflation is devaluing degrees, colleges are giving traditional subjects and valuable skills short shrift, and they aren't challenging students who want to be challenged, according to a new study last week.

The national survey of 1,004 randomly selected college students, conducted by the Ithaca, N.Y.-based Zogby International, found that 68 percent of students surveyed want their professors to challenge them more. Two out of three students say grade inflation is bad for all students; 73 percent said grade inflation is at least occasional.

Is their degree important?

More students view a college degree as a social requirement than see it as a guarantee of valuable skills, according to the study, funded by The Foundation for Academic Standards & Tradition.

The complete survey is at www.goFAST.org.

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