The Madison County Journal
April 12, 2000
Charter school could give kids
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.
Madison County Journal
April 12, 2000
Proposed storm water ordinance prime example
of invasive government actions
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
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
William E. Fleeman
The Madison County Journal
April 12, 2000
Campaigning and the
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
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.