The Banks County News
January 26, 2000
Good idea to do
away with teacher tenure
The best thing about Gov. Roy Barnes'
education reform is the recommendation to do away with teacher
tenure and be more flexible in teacher pay by rewarding good
To improve education, you first have to address problems with
teachers. Tenure has long left administrators with no means to
get rid of ineffective or bad teachers. Those in the non-school
workforce certainly have no such guarantees that they will get
to keep their job if their performance falls.
It should be same for school system personnel. This is not to
say that we in Banks County have too many bad teachers, it is
just to say that they should be held accountable the same as
those in the private sector. While we applaud the governor for
these recommendations, other parts of his proposal could lead
to more problems.
A lower student-teacher ratio is a good idea, but where will
the money for the additional classrooms and teachers needed come
from? If the state mandates this and then provides no funds for
it, it will only bring more headaches for local school systems.
Another concern is the proposed seven-member governing council,
which would be composed of teachers, parents and business people.
There are some indications that this council would have the authority
to hire and fire personnel. The school board of education already
has this power. Creating another board with the same power would
likely lead to problems.
The Banks County News
January 26, 2000
about superintendent search
Many of you know me, but some parents in Banks County may not
be as familiar. My name is Jimmy Hooper and I have been a school
principal in Banks County since 1976. During three decades of
service, I have seen many students, teachers, school principals,
school superintendents and school board members come and go.
For the parents that know me, you realize and understand that
I have worked diligently to provide the best education possible
for the children in my school. Many times, I had to do this not
because of the Banks County Board of Education, but in spite
of the board of education.
As I write this letter, I know that I have placed my professional
educational career in jeopardy and will in most likelihood be
fired from my position. But I feel I owe my comments to the many
thousands of students and parents I have served over the past
24 years. For parents that are not aware, this school year has
been one of change, uncertainty and turmoil. Since the beginning
of this school term, the following has taken place within our
school system: the school system's superintendent resigned due
to his concern over lack of support from the school board; the
special education coordinator resigned after and upon pressure
by the school board; the school system's food director left;
and the high school lunchroom manager left the system.
Parents, this should seem obvious that we have problems and issues
in our school system. The one that I am most concerned about
is the recruitment and search for a new school superintendent.
If you have read the newspapers lately, Banks County is not the
only county going through turmoil. Clarke County and Oconee County
are both looking for new school superintendents. The big difference
I see and what bothers me is that they are looking for the best-qualified
person for the position. The Banks County Board of Education
has already determined that a search by an outside agency is
not necessary for Banks County. I differ greatly with this decision.
Our tax dollars and our children's education should be placed
in the hands of the most qualified person available. I have reason
to believe that the decision for the new school superintendent
has been made and this decision could have been made illegally
by school board members acting outside their legal roles. The
law requires the school board to make a search, but if the search
is limited to one candidate, what kind of quality search could
this possibly be?
No other issue in our small county should be more open to public
input and scrutiny than who should direct our schools in the
21st century. I have been in this county long enough to understand
the behind-the-scenes activities of local politics and how some
school board members perceive their roles on the school board.
Now is not the time to be playing "petty" politics
or pushing personal agendas. Now is the time to be open for the
opinions and concerns of the citizens of Banks County. I know
from firsthand experience that the fine people of Banks County
do care about the education of their children, but many times
do not get actively involved with the politics of the school
Now is the time for parents to take a stand to ensure that the
Banks County Board of Education does the wishes of the people
and not necessarily their wishes. Parents, I urge you to call
your school board members and ask them to spare no time or energy
to select the best possible person available to lead and direct
our school system.
I have a genuine belief that I will be fired or poorly evaluated
by writing this honest letter of concern. If I am reassigned
or lose my position, I have only one comment to make - It is
well with my soul!
Jimmy T. Hooper
The Banks County News
January 26, 2000
In search of treasure
A glass case filled with dolls with big
blond hair and elaborate multi-colored gowns caught my attention.
I hurried over to check out the condition of the dolls and the
prices. I smiled with satisfaction to note the high prices of
the dolls I already have, while I grimaced at the price of the
ones missing from my collection.
My mother pointed out every table, both large and small, and
said she thought she had room for one more in the house. As we
passed a small, ornate one, she excitedly pointed it out and
said she was sure she could fit it in somewhere, among the 10
or 15 other tables that fill our house. I don't understand her
fascination with tables, but she probably wonders about all of
the dolls I drag home.
As we made our way among the treasures and junk cluttered together
in the antique mall, we lost track of my dad. A little while
later, he found us and pulled out the old knife he had bought
and took my mother over to check out another one that had caught
his eye. Over his shoulder, he asked me if I had seen any old
While some people may be bored spending a Saturday morning at
an antique mall, not me and my parents. We were as happy as could
be spending more than an hour looking for treasures. It's clear
where my love of collecting stuff came from. Both of my parents
have things they are always on the lookout forwhether it
be tables, knives, glassware, coins or chairs. As for me, I quickly
scan antique stores and flea markets looking for dolls, cameras,
stuffed animals, hats and pocketbooks.
Our recent search for our favorites came at a cool antique store
in Seveirville, Tenn., which is near Pigeon Forge. On a recent
trip, we headed to the store before even checking into our hotel.
We quickly went our separate ways to look for the things that
we like. We met up several times during our stop to compare notes
and point out what we were considering buying.
After about an hour of looking among the tables and shelves crowded
with treasures and junk, my mother and I decided to buy one of
the holiday Barbies to add to "our" doll collection,
while my dad picked out one knife to add to his collection. We
found many other items that we liked, but when you collect as
much as we do, you have to limit the new purchases because of
a lack of space. Every time that I declare I will never buy another
doll because I don't have room for any more, I will come across
one that I just have to buy. This means I have to rearrange the
ones I have to fit in the new one. Somehow, I always manage.
The trip to Seveirville was one of the highlights of our long
weekend in the mountains. It is a good time to visit now. It's
not as crowded and the motel rates are at their lowest point
for the year. Many of the shows and attractions are closed for
the season, but there is still plenty to do for a weekend.
Angela Gary is editor of The Banks County ws and associate
editor of The Jackson Herald.