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The Commerce News
February 2, 2000

Teacher Tenure Not An Important School Issue
One of the major points of Gov. Roy Barnes education reform legislation is the elimination of tenure, an area where Barnes says there can be no negotiations.
That is a mistake. Teacher tenure is not among the problems with Georgia's schools, but it is an emotional linchpin on both sides of the reform issue.
Barnes appears to share the belief that tenure makes teachers difficult to fire. That is only partly true; it makes them difficult to fire if a principal has not documented the shortcomings of the teacher and tried to address them first before firing the teacher. Where tenure is an obstacle, the real problem is a weak and ineffective principal, and that is a much more serious problem than an ineffective teacher.
The principal who effectively manages personnel will have little problem removing an unproductive teacher. That principal will have documented each and every problem, observed and counseled the teacher and, if that fails, is legally free to terminate the teacher. Superintendents, school boards and principals who cite tenure as a problem have totally missed the point; the weak principal is the problem.
Tenure may well be an outdated concept. It certainly does not exist in private industry. However, if the governor lets tenure become the central issue, he risks a bitter and protracted battle which, if he wins, will scare many prospective teachers away from Georgia.
There are other concerns about the legislation, including the creation of a new level of bureaucracy at the local level and the lack of specifics on how schools will be adequately judged to be "succeeding" or "failing." But the emotional issue of tenure is both among the most volatile and the least important parts of the legislation. It is not worth the fight.

Committee Smart To Avoid Legislation
It is good to see the committee studying how Commerce can best annex Montgomery Shores shying away from annexation by legislation. Hopefully, Commerce will never again forcibly annex people who do not wish to be annexed into the city.
It is understandable that occasionally the city would see a need to solidify its city limits, but it has been the city's eagerness to accept every annexation request in the past that helped create a situation where virtually no one knew where the city ended and the county began.
It is also understood that for all practical purposes, much of the unincorporated area around Commerce is actually what we all consider Commerce. But that does not mean the city should force such neighbors to become part of what is officially the corporate limits.
While we see more advantages to living inside the city limits than right outside ­ except for farmers ­ the decision to become part of the city should rest with the property owner first. Hopefully, given the city's lower tax rate and (presumably) better services, adjacent property owners will come into the city of their own volition, at which time the city council can also decide whether annexation is in the city's best interest.
The neighbors who join our city because they want to be residents of Commerce will be happier citizens than those who are annexed against their will. As City Councilman Bob Sosebee has put it, annexation by legislation should be a last resort. Even then, it should only be used under extraordinary circumstances.

Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
February 2, 2000

'Bad Hair Life' The Cause Of All His Problems
"Well, that explains a lot," I thought to myself as I read in the Atlanta newspaper that "Bad hair really can ruin a day."
It was refreshing to find some important news, instead of more boring reporting about non-news like the New Hampshire Primary, the saga of Elian (pronounced "Alien!") Gonzalez, or the Russian-Chechan war.
Yale University had conducted scientific research, funded by Proctor & Gamble, into (as Dave Barry would say, I am not making this up) "the psychology of bad hair days."
Having eradicated cancer, mapped the human gene system, found the cause of Alzheimer's Disease and discovered a cure for greed, science has tackled the next most important issue and made a startling discovery: People with bad hair feel dumber, less capable, embarrassed and less sociable; and men suffer more from the problem than do women.
Well, duh! seems like the appropriate response. Men suffer more because they don't want to spend the time and money to try to correct the problem.
I do not have "bad hair days." I have a bad hair life. Most of my days have been ruined before I so much as attempt to comb my hair. A "good day" for me is one when a little spit will make the 100-1,000 renegade hairs just over the horizon as I look in the mirror stay relatively flat. But on most days they absolutely refuse to conform to the demands of convenience or style and nothing short of concrete or a baseball cap can bend them to my will.
Having endured almost 35 years of bad hair (and finally understanding why my parents insisted I have a crew cut the first 15 years), I feel as qualified as anyone to address the psychology of bad hair.
Yale University research has discovered why I feel less smart, less capable, more embarrassed and less sociable than the rest of you. As a result of that inferiority complex, I entered journalism, where I could deflect attention from my bad hair onto other people or groups by just writing "negative editorials."
Remember how I lambasted certain city officials back in the late 70s and early 80s when Commerce's government was the laughingstock of Georgia? Well, our government really wasn't all that bad; I was just having a bad hair decade.
That was probably the reason I criticized the Downtown Development Authority a few months ago for wasting money on banners to hang in the downtown to urge us to "discover downtown." Bad hair. Raising Cain with the board of education over SAT scores? Really, I don't care about the SAT. I was responding to bad hair.
I know a couple of people who have solved the problem. Richard Cathey never has a bad hair day. His haircut preempts bad hair. My brother-in-law Larry solved the problem too, going mostly bald. I envy his low-maintenance head. He's the smartest person in our family, probably because he expends less brain power worrying over hair.
Mostly, I just slog through life, defeated by my hair. It does what it wants to do and I mostly ignore it. And when it really gets me down, I just transfer my vitriol to city or county government with an editorial.
#@$%!! City Hall.

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