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OPINION PAGE - JANUARY 26, 2000 - HOMER, GA

Editorial
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 teachers.
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.


Letters
The Banks County News
January 26, 2000

Principal concerned about superintendent search
Dear Editor:
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 system.
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!
Sincerely,
Jimmy T. Hooper

Column
By Angie Gary
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 car tags.
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.


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