Madison County Opinion...

 April 12, 2000


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
April 12, 2000

Frankly Speaking
Charter school could give kids a boost
Two specialists in children's issues have applied for what would be Madison County's first charter school. The school would be for students in the ninth and tenth grades who are at risk of leaving school or not earning a diploma. Michael McCord, one of the developers of the school, said that the goal is to teach the students the fundamentals necessary to pass the graduation exam, then place them back in the regular school to complete the required classes for graduation.
I have long supported the idea of a competitive school system. I would like to see the development of charter schools, private schools, or home schools that will give parents a choice, and thus control, of their children's education. After all, it is the responsibility of parents, not government, boards of education or even teachers to provide for the education of their children. When parents have no options, they have no control.
I do not mean to imply that the Madison County school system is inadequate, or that it does not do the best job possible. But we all should recognize the limitations placed on public schools. In order to function effectively and efficiently, they have to develop classes that are suitable for the majority of students. Those who do not fit the profile of an average student often find it difficult to function in a public school. Parents of students who do not fit majority profile have nowhere to turn.
With a number of schools using different teaching programs, parents will have the ability to select the school they feel can best teach their child. Students who might be unsuited for one type of school could likely thrive in another.
The proposed school would create just such an option. If successful, it would give at-risk students a chance to complete their high school education, and possibly go on to advanced school, either technical or college.
In today's economy, anything that will increase the number of citizens who are capable of dealing with our high tech world is vital. Our current work force is being stretched to the limit by the expanding economy. Our area is in danger of losing valuable businesses because there are not enough skilled, well-educated workers to operate them.
Our present school system is doing a good job of preparing the majority of our students for these good jobs. However, those students who, for whatever reason, are failing to acquire the necessary job skills, will be left out. If this charter school can help provide a quality education for these exceptional students, we will all benefit.
I encourage all parents, teachers, school administrators, and board members to study this idea, go to the meetings, ask questions, and see if the proposals by Mr. Thomas and Mr. McCord have the potential to improve our educational system. If their ideas stand up, they should have an opportunity to put them into practice.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal.


Letter
The Madison County Journal
April 12, 2000

Proposed storm water ordinance prime example of invasive government actions
Dear editor:
A storm water management ordinance is being considered that is costly and will be harmful to development of Madison County. We have enough government control. Please help in stopping more government control on our lives and on property in Madison County.
The ordinance being considered is extremely costly, but is a big dollar win for engineers and land surveyors and a power win for politicians and public officials that might want to control property and owners. We are talking about public control of private property by government on top of the zoning ordinance. This is a back door to put a total cap on use of large sections of property. We citizens should not be confused with language of storm water control. We are only talking about money and power. Its cost would be prohibitive as it requires design by professional engineers and/or land surveyors registered by the state of Georgia. There are a lot of people in this county that can do design systems. We have excellent contractors in the county that will have to raise their prices to do the same jobs. I sent the ordinance to an engineer and he stated that a cost of about $2,500 just to start the plans and it could cost an additional $25,000 for design and construction of a catch basin. It calls for an override review by county officials without describing their ability. Such loose language could lead to abuse by making up rules as needed.
Examples: 1.) A church wants to increase parking spaces by 10 spaces. It must come under this regulation. Our churches do not need this expense. 2.) Mom and Pop have a small business. (Many of you have small family businesses.) To add 100 feet and construction costs of $5,000 to $10,000. They could be subject to $10,000 to $25,000 additional costs for plans and a catch basin. They cannot afford these costs to engineers and surveyors. We are not Fulton County, nor are we Clarke County. Many of you now hold property with road frontage and can subdivide without any permission from a county official or politician. You might not. If we get the ordinance some of you want to cut your children's lots. Be careful, you might not be able to do so. If you have an interest in the future of Madison County, please come to the public hearing April 24 at 6:30 p.m. in the Madison County courthouse in Danielsville.
Sincerely,
William E. Fleeman

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Column
By Zach Mitcham
The Madison County Journal
April 12, 2000

Campaigning and the Journal
Those who campaign and those who report on election hopefuls seem laughable at times.
For example, John McCain invited reporters onto his campaign bus this year, having staffers drive the cars of the journalists while they rode with the presidential candidate eating donuts, joking and talking about issues.
I don't foresee myself on a bus with any candidates this year in Madison County, but there certainly will be a lot of campaigning around here over the next several months. And we'll be doing a lot of work, too.
A number of elected posts are up for grabs this year, including the chairman of the board of commissioners, all five posts at the commissioners' table, Districts 3-5 on the county school board, the probate judge, the clerk of court, tax commissioner, sheriff, coroner, surveyor, state representative and state senator. Qualifying for those posts will be April 24 to April 28.
This paper will cover the races for these offices over the coming months. So I thought I'd take a moment to spell out a few things about what you will and won't see in print:
·Candidates' announcements - We have already run announcements from several candidates seeking various offices. These announcements are edited just like any other news copy. They are printed on page 2A or 3A, not on the front page. If we give one person front page coverage, we feel all deserve it. And that's a hard promise to keep ,considering all of the news we cover. We run every announcement that is submitted to us. But we will run announcements no later than May 22. By then - almost a month after qualifying - someone's announcement will be old news. And if a candidate wants publicity, they will need to buy an ad.
·Advertising - We have a number of guidelines for political advertising. If you are interested in running for office, you may pick up our four-page campaign ad pamphlet at our office on Hwy. 29 across from the county government complex. Among the information to remember is that political ads must be submitted by 5 p.m. Friday in order to run the following Wednesday. Positive identification of the persons placing a political ad is required, because we want to ensure that no ads will be purchased without the candidate's knowledge, perhaps by that candidate's opponent. Sounds dirty, but it's been known to happen. Also, we will not knowingly print false information in ads. Anyone with a question about advertising may contact one of our ad representatives, Charles Richards or Argie Gillespie, at 795-2567.
·Endorsements - We have no plans to run political endorsements. In other words, we're not going to tell readers who they should vote for. However, we will make editorial comment on campaign activities on the opinion pages of this paper if we feel it is needed. I doubt we will escape forming preferences in the election, but I will assure you that any published opinion of ours will be expressed solely in the opinion section of this paper. Those who see political aims in the size of headlines or placement of an ad or news piece are not privy to production considerations which often determine these things.
·Coverage of political forums - The Madison County Chamber of Commerce is planning political forums for this year's elections, though no dates have been set, according to Chamber president Barbarianne Gaulding-Russell. A political forum is one of the best ways for voters to learn about candidates, and we will prominently publicize any such activity, while offering in-depth coverage of the events.
·Question and answer issues - We plan to offer all candidates a questionnaire concerning issues and the candidate's views. Each candidate for a particular post will receive the same questions. These questionnaires will be printed with a photo of the candidate in The Journal the week before contested primary and general elections.
Anyone willing to run for public office deserves a measure of respect. Those who step into the fray submit themselves to considerable scrutiny. They are the ones who must make tough decisions on issues that often have no clear black and white.
Let's hope that those seeking office this year will show dignity and respect for their opponents. Even in defeat, political candidates can prove themselves winners.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal.



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