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 OPINION PAGE - FEBRUARY 9, 2000 - COMMERCE, GA

Editorial
The Commerce News
February 9, 2000

Paying Tribute To A Beloved Physician
Former patients and friends of Dr. Joe L. Griffeth are expected in the hundreds Sunday afternoon to pay tribute to the area's best-known physician.
As patients and co-workers have observed, Griffeth was cut from the same kind of cloth as the late Drs. A.A. Rogers Sr. and A.A. Rogers Jr., providing service at a time when doctors made house calls, worked late into the night and generally sacrificed much of their home and family lives to serve their patients. Not only has Griffeth been a doctor for 42 years, but he has also been a community leader, active in his church, rising to great influence and office in Kiwanis International and serving on BJC Medical Center's governing authority. He has also served as president of the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce, was long-time chief of staff at BJC Medical Center and was team physician for the Commerce Tigers. Come to think of it, if something important was going on in Commerce, chances are Dr. Joe Griffeth was involved.
In whatever he was doing, Griffeth was (and is) beloved, whether by his patients or by foreign officers of Kiwanis International. Soft-spoken, quick with an easy laugh, dedicated, Griffeth made friends of all.
Now those friends will have a chance to show their appreciation, to remember past happenings and to let Griffeth know how much he has meant to the community. Let's launch Griffeth into retirement with a resounding turnout Sunday, from 2:00 to 4:00, at the Commerce Civic Center.


Letter
The Commerce News
February 9, 2000

Congratulations To State Cheerleading Champions
Editor:
We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the Commerce High School Competitive Cheerleaders, the GHSA Class-A State Champions for 2000. Your hard work has paid off big time. We are extremely proud of you.
Thanks to Donnie Drew for his support at the Region 8-A competition, and to Larry White for driving the bus and supporting the team at the state competition in Columbus. Many thanks go to Diane Cotrell for her dedication and effort this year.
A very special thanks goes to Tommy Martin and his staff at ProCheer. Tommy believed in the success of a competitive cheer squad at CHS before most of us even knew what one was. We appreciate his faith in our children and the motivation and training he has provided them. We also appreciate the students and fans that have supported the team and have been steadfast "cheerleaders for the cheerleaders."
Although the CHS team has only competed for two years, they placed second in the region and state in 1999 and were region and state champs in their second year. We are looking forward to many more great seasons for the Commerce High School Competitive Cheerleaders.
Sincerely,
Elaine Roller - on behalf of the proud parents of the state champs

Column
Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
February 9, 2000

Eliminating Tenure A False Hope For Schools
Gov. Roy Barnes seems to think that most of Georgia's educational problems will be behind it if only tenure can be abolished. A major key to improving schools, he says, is to get rid of bad teachers.
The governor is wrong. Sure, tenure is an out-of-date concept, and it prevents some teachers from being fired, but I've always heard that schools are only as good as their principals. I would add that principals are only as good as the superintendent.
It looks like the governor will succeed in getting tenure eliminated, but probably only for new teachers. If one assumes Gov. Barnes is correct about all those rotten teachers, the abolishment of tenure will still have zero impact.
It takes teachers three years to earn tenure. During those three years, they can be dismissed if they are bad. The reason bad teachers have tenure is that bad principals allow them to get tenure. A principal who will allow a sorry teacher to gain tenure is no more likely to fire a teacher after five or 15 years than he was during the first three years. Less likely, probably.
In fact, abolishing teacher tenure could be detrimental. It may convince some good teachers to not apply in Georgia, fearful that any disagreement with a principal ­ say taking the wrong side on a school merger controversy ­ could cost the teacher his or her job. (It is not too hard to imagine Commerce teachers who voiced opinions in favor of merging their school system with Jackson County suddenly out of favor with the principal and the school board.)
But, I digress.
If principals do not fire poor teachers during the first three years on the job, what expectations do we have that they will fire them once there is no tenure at all?
I suspect most bad teachers survive for other reasons too. Maybe they are well connected in the community, whether they be related to political authorities or indispensable on the football field. They are defended by their peers, the principal, superintendent and school board. The "bad" teachers are always in some other school or some other school system, or they are teachers who don't "fit in" because they are not herd animals.
It matters little to me whether tenure survives. What bothers me is the governor's belief that dropping tenure is crucial. What is crucial is making our principals better personnel managers, better able to get the most out of their staffs, to help strengthen weak performers and to encourage excellence. The educational bureaucracy, the requirement that education solve the community's social ills, the daily struggle with unmotivated students, unconcerned parents, all too often a lack of basic supplies and too many children, all serve to dampen teacher enthusiasm. A third of all new teachers leave education before three years, making tenure for them a moot point, but illustrating the challenges of managing a staff of educators.
The governor should turn his attention into making the classroom environment better for the teachers. Adequate materials, reasonable numbers, support and encouragement from above, stronger principals and less state and local bureaucracy would all help more than eliminating tenure.


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