The Commerce News
February 2, 2000
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Tenure may well be an outdated concept.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
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
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
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
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.
The Commerce News
February 2, 2000
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
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
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.