The Commerce News
February 23, 2000
Good In 'Reform'
Gov. Roy Barnes' "school
reform" bill appears destined to become law, and it has
some aspects that may be detrimental to education, from the loss
of teacher tenure and its effect on recruiting teachers, to the
two new levels of bureaucracy.
But, as Commerce superintendent of schools Larry White points
out, it has its good points too. The primary advantage of Barnes'
initiative is the reduction of the teacher/pupil ratio throughout
the school systems.
Achieving the reduced levels will be tough. The state education
budget will expand to accommodate the lower ratios; local school
budgets will be strained to provide supplements and benefits
for the extra teachers. Many schools, including some locally,
will have to build new classrooms. It will be an expensive proposition.
But this action more than anything else in the school legislation
will bear fruit in the long run. Lower teacher/pupil ratios mean
more attention for each student and more attention should translate
to better learning. Whether children are the so-called "at
risk" students or the brightest in the class, they benefit
from having smaller classrooms where each student can get more
attention, more help. Smaller classrooms will also help teachers
do their jobs better, reduce their stress and contribute to a
better work environment. All of that portends better things for
A new local board for each school, a new "office of accountability"
at the state level and penalties for schools that don't measure
up will all create more problems than they solve. The governor's
plan will create a nightmare for administrators in every school
system in the state and a horror for administrators and teachers
in systems with more "at risk" children. But when all
is said and done, Georgia's children should benefit from a lower
By the time this newspaper
reaches its readers, the Michigan and Arizona primaries will
be over and it is possible that the nation will pretty well know
who the presidential nominees from each party will be. Al Gore
appears to have the Democratic nomination all but locked up,
but there could be a longer battle among the Republicans.
We are a long way from the November elections, but not that far
from Super Tuesday. It's time for voters to distill to themselves
exactly what the issues are as the nation prepares to elect a
The nature of the presidential campaign is that each candidate
will expend more energy trying to discredit the other than in
defining his own position. It will be a challenge to sift through
what is written, what is said and what we see to try to pick
the candidate we feel most likely to resolve these issues. That,
however, is our obligation as voters.
All too often, support for a candidate is based on emotions of
the moment. Polls indicate voter support waxes or wanes with
each day, often based on how a candidate performed in the most
recent primary. Ironically, voters have a greater ability today
than ever before to learn about a candidate's positions, beliefs
and record. Newspapers, magazines, television and radio all provide
reports of the campaign day by day. Internet sites of the candidates
can provide information about their positions, and even a novice
can use the Internet to read a week's worth of reporting about
the campaign and the issues from any of the major news organizations.
It is our obligation to be informed voters, and it has never
been easier to be informed about an election campaign. There
is time before the March 7 primary to become well versed about
the Democratic and Republican nominees, and a world of time before
the November elections. All voters should invest the time needed
to choose candidates based on the key issues and the qualifications
of the candidates. Let's take voting seriously and do our homework
before casting a ballot.
The Commerce News
February 23, 2000
Maybe It's Not
A Fad After All
It has taken me a while, as new things
usually do, but I am slowly learning to appreciate the possibilities
of the Internet.
While those around me have been sending and receiving email for
years, buying everything from books to cars on-line and chatting
with people all over the world, I've pretty much resisted the
lure of e-everything.
I'm slowly catching up to the trends of the 90s, though, even
as the double aughts are under way. I am now computer semi-literate
and am learning to enjoy the web.
The highest and best use of a computer is for the storage and
retrieval of data. I'll add communication in a nod toward the
benefits of email, but the web's function is to disseminate information.
That a lot of the information on the Internet happens to be strangers
having sex is beside the point; the Internet is unsurpassed in
giving access to information on EVERY topic known to man and
a lot of previously unknown topics.
To my surprise, I now get most of my international news from
the Associated Press and Reuters as posted on Yahoo. I get the
top stories of the day from Georgia, the United States, Canada,
Europe, England, Ireland, Latin America and Australia. I don't
always read them, but often I do. I also read selections from
the New York Times, still the premier newspaper in America. For
other reasons, I access the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the St.
Petersburg Times, and occasionally, I tap into the web sites
of three or four magazines. I've been able to indulge myself
in full coverage of the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries
from multiple viewpoints all at the same place.
You can't read a magazine or a Sunday newspaper without finding
reference to an interesting web site. Recently, my sister gave
me a clipping about a site on which 2,500 books in the public
domain are posted, from the Bible to the Canterbury Tales. Jay
Jackson gave me the URL of an EPD site that posts all of the
fines and penalties levied against companies in violation of
state pollution laws. I went through the MainStreet Newspapers
site to get a virtual tour of Wrangell, AK, and to get a copy
of a state law.
Every business seems to have a web page too, although why anyone
would visit the web site of Crisco, for example, remains a mystery.
To enjoy the Internet, I must be able to use it quickly and simply,
which is to say I want to spend very little time searching. My
favorite sites are those of businesses with which I am familiar
outside the web. I go online, find what I want, read it and occasionally
As for the trash that's on the web, I seldom stumble upon it.
It's like shopping at Sears; if I want a Craftsman wrench, I
look in the hardware section, not in the lingerie department.
By email, I keep in contact with relatives to whom I would never
write a letter or make a call. I found a long-lost friend, I've
sent scathing and complimentary email messages, ordered merchandise,
but mostly just kept up with family.
And I do it all for free with one of two free Internet services.
Call me old fashioned, frugal, cheap. I get my money's worth
out of the Internet, and it's growing on me.
You know, it may be more than a passing fad.