Jackson County Opinions...

 May 17, 2000

Letter To The Editor
The Jackson Herald
May 17, 2000

Finds column on dress
codes 'excessive and offensive'
Dear Editor:
I found Adam Fouche's comments on the dress code excessive and defiant. I also found the call for "teenagers to revolt" as a bit misplaced.
There are much more important things to worry about than a simple dress code. Dress codes are commonplace in our society; they are spoken (as at school), and unspoken, such as at church or in business. These codes are taught to us by our parents and mentors to help us, not deter us.
"Dressed For Success" is a catch phrase in the business community. It has been shown statistically that those who project a clean-cut image have much more success than those who are careless in the way they dress. A school dress code simply helps prepare a student for the real world.
Let's suppose we did away with all dress codes. There would be no police uniforms, soldiers would present themselves to their superiors in shorts and a T-shirt. In sporting events, we'd never know who was on what team. And can you imagine giving your hard-earned paycheck to a bank attendant who was generally unkempt? What would the families of a bride and a groom think of someone who came to their children's wedding with cut-off shorts and a tank top?
Dress codes exist everywhere and for a good reason. It is a way to display our best to society. I'm not against blue jeans, or comfortable clothes, but I am against wearing them where it is inappropriate.
Your cry for anarchy in the name of a democratic society is very contradictory indeed. For it is the democratic society who cries for order and peace. It is the democratic society that has established the dress code.

Sincerely, Mark and Dorothy Vaughn

(See Adam Fouche's Original Column)

Letter To The Editor
The Jackson Herald
May 17, 2000

Appreciates column on dress code
Dear Editor:
Thank you for writing about the dress code issue.
It seems our systems were set up to control the families as opposed to serving them, which is what they were intended to do. The politics wrapped up in our system is so stifling, I applaud every child who is able to make it through the day. Please continue on this subject, and I hope you get many readers like myself who are passionate on the subject of communism in our schools.

Sincerely, Sherrie Garner, Commerce

(See Adam Fouche's Original Column)

Letter To The Editor
The Jackson Herald
May 17, 2000

Takes issue with column, says rules are necessary
Dear Editor:
I would like to respond to a column published during the week of May 8-12. I am a teacher at Banks County High School, and a parent of children in our school system. I must say that I was less than impressed with the careless article mentioned above. Perhaps, I am just confused about who the actual "we" mentioned in the article is supposed to be. It is my understanding that there is currently only one society in our world, of which all of us, as humans, are members. I do not understand the two societies mentioned in Mr. Fouche's article.
In addition, I understand that our Constitution protects the right to freedom of speech and of the press, along with other rights. Personally, I feel that each individual is entitled to his/her own personal opinion. In my classroom, I encourage students to think for themselves. I also encourage them to express their opinions at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way. However, I must say I have definite problems with the opinions expressed in the column mentioned above. The idea of comparing something as inconsequential as a dress code to Nazi Germany is appalling to me. I would think, and after an in-depth study of World War II students in my class would probably agree, that the atrocities suffered by the oppressed victims of Nazi Germany outweigh by far the enforcement of rules in schools.
First and foremost is the issue of respect for authority. Contrary to popular opinion, the school board and administrators do have the authority to set certain guidelines or rules to be observed by students, as well as faculty and staff. This is similar to the idea of congressmen, senators and the president making laws to keep our society safe and organized. While not every person agrees with each and every one of these laws, one must obey these laws until they are changed-using the proper procedure. After all, in the democracy in which we live, the American people do have a voice and a right to choose. If someone chooses not to obey one of these laws just because he/she does not agree with it, then he/she must expect to suffer the consequences of his/her actions and take responsibility for those actions. After all, without laws, our society would be anarchy; full of chaos and disorder. Society would cease being a functional and progressive entity.
In the same way, schools must enforce certain rules in order for the main function - education - to commence. These rules must include some guidelines concerning student and faculty dress. Students have enough distractions in their hectic lives; dress should not be an issue. For example, a beautiful female student who decides to come to school topless would be a bit much for any other student to ignore. I imagine even Mr. Fouche would be a bit distracted. At any rate, the learning process would be interrupted, leading to a misfunction of classes and school. Again, someone has to be in charge - someone has to set the guidelines. In our society, this means the school board and administration. It is my understanding that at least in the Banks County school system input from parents and students is welcomed and considered by those in authority before decisions concerning dress are made.
Integrity is defined by Webster's as "honor; adherence to a code of ethics or morals; soundness." Perhaps it would behoove the "we" referred to by Mr. Fouche to look again at the ideas of honor and integrity. The idea that a dress code, or any other rule for that matter, is intended to stifle the individuality of students is extremely uninformed and predictably immature. As a teenager, my mother complained about the dress code at her high school because the female students were not allowed to wear pants. As a teenager, I complained about my high school's dress code because students were not allowed to wear shorts. Today, in the most unrestricted situation in the history of our society, teenagers complain because there is a dress code at all.
Rules for student safety and the sake of education are necessary. Without them, "we" could be headed to a lawless and chaotic society begun by people who, according to Mr.Fouche, are trying to "...show them that you don't always know what is right..."

Sincerely, Cara Bray
Language Arts Department, Banks County High School

(See Adam Fouche's Original Column)

Letter To The Editor
The Jackson Herald
May 17, 2000

Thanks for help with Special Olympics
Dear Editor:
I want to take this opportunity to thank all of the individuals and businesses that have supported the Jackson County Special Olympics this year. Without their interest, we could not have provided athletic competition for our 175 athletes.
I want to especially thank the Jackson County Comprehensive High School Class of 2000 for its help at our Local Games on May 5. If these are examples of the youth of America, then I have no worries for our future as a nation. These young people exemplify the values that we hold dear, and I want the students and their parents to know how much we appreciate them.

Sincerely, Greg Jarvis
Local Coordinator

Letter To The Editor
The Commerce News
May 17, 2000

Teacher/Coach Grateful For Tenure At CHS
In today's society, people find it much easier to complain or grumble about their lot in life rather than be thankful for the many blessings that are found all around them. With this thought in mind, I would like to take a few moments to thank some people for their graciousness during my tenure as teacher and coach in the Commerce School System.
First, to the Commerce Board of Education and superintendent of schools, I have been fortunate to be a part of an excellent school system. I have found support and encouragement from the leadership of this system in every avenue. Your commitment to excellence will no doubt lead the students of Commerce in a positive direction in the years to come. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of this system.
To the principals of each of the schools, I have had the unique experience of working with each of you, and I leave with nothing but favorable memories. Much can be said for superiors that entrust their subordinates to do a job, and then stand behind them to ensure their success. I'll not soon forget the many times that each of you stood with me to help me do my job. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the schools that you lead.
To my teaching colleagues, I offer my most sincere gratitude. Many of you have been very instrumental in my development as a teacher and person. We have shared both professionally and personally in times of joy and sadness, but through them all I always knew where to turn for support and affirmation and you never wavered. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of the fellowship of teachers.
To the athletic director, I am reminded of an old article that someone shared with me a while back entitled, "So Your Son Wants To Be a Tiger." The author was Coach Ray Lamb, and he spoke of the many opportunities, challenges, and rewards of being a Commerce Tiger. The same applies for being a coach of the Commerce Tigers. I am grateful that I was afforded the opportunity to be a part of a program that was about creating young men and women that would stand above the rest, not only on the field, but in life. I was fortunate to start my coaching career in Commerce. The things that I have learned from you have made me a better coach and person. Thank you for placing your faith in me, and allowing me to be a part of the Commerce Tigers.
To my coaching colleagues, I don't know of many bonds (outside of marriage) in life that are forged as deep as those forged among coaches. The friendships we have created are those that will withstand something so trivial as me departing rank, and for that I am grateful. The encouragement and support that each of you have shown me has been a source of strength through both the tough times and the good times. Each of you along with your families will be cherished in my household because of your unwavering friendship. Thank you for allowing me the honor of being a part of your lives.
Finally, to the many parents and supporters of the Commerce schools and athletic programs, I don't know of any group of people that are more loving and supportive than the group here at Commerce. What you have here in this community is very special, and I have been blessed to be a part of it. Thank you for taking my family in and loving us. The Oliver family has enjoyed being Tigers, and there will always be a part of us that will remain Tigers.
For anyone who has the notion that I am leaving under any circumstances other than positive ones, rest assured that this is false. I leave with nothing but fond memories and a strong professional base that was provided by the many that I came in contact with in this school system and community.

Sincerely, Jason Oliver

Letter To The Editor
The Commerce News
May 17, 2000

Wife Is A Better Shot Than That, Husband Says
This is a retraction on The Banks County News and The Commerce News. Two weeks ago, you made a report of a Mrs. Brenda McDonald, who was charged with aggravated assault. You put in the article that police had been to the residence of Mrs. McDonald and her husband numerous times, but that statement is untrue. You also had false information about her 15-year-old daughter, who allegedly witnessed the incident. She did not see the incident. She was in the house the time the event took place.
Mr. McDonald also would like to make a statement and say that he feels that Mrs. McDonald was not attempting to shoot him. The gun was never pointed at Mr. McDonald, but was only fired one time through the top middle of the windshield. "She was not 10 feet away," Mr. McDonald said. He also said, "I know she can shoot better than that."

Dennis McDonald

Editor's Note: All facts in the story came from the incident reports filed by the Banks County Sheriff's Department.

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By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
May 17, 2000

Adam's revolution begins
Hyperbole, rhetoric and exaggeration are all stock tools of a newspaper columnist. Like the cartoonist who distorts the features of his subjects with pen and ink, columnists often put tongue-in-cheek and use words to paint a caricature of an issue or subject.
It is a style that our columnist, reporter and all-around raconteur Adam Fouche uses wickedly. As long as he doesn't begin to believe his own rhetoric, he'll make a darn good newspaper man. If he does start to believe his hyperbole, look for him on television as a candidate for some high government office.
Last week, Adam again used words to flame a debate, calling school dress codes akin to communism and urging students to rebel against such infringements of their personal rights. His call for students to revolt and burn dress codes sent not a small ripple through the schools. Local law enforcement officials said that if indeed a revolt did happen, Adam would be stripped naked and sent into the school to negotiate a settlement.
For those old enough to remember, all of this smacks of nostalgia from the 1970s, an era that saw both draft cards and bras put to the flame in record numbers. There's many middle-aged women today who have sagging breasts because of those '70s bra burnings. Alas, revolution isn't always an uplifting experience.
Of course, young Adam doesn't remember the 1970s, having been a baby of the 1980s. I suppose that the '70s counter culture movement, with its long hair and trendy music, must seem like an idyllic time to those who weren't there.
But of all the people who work for The Herald, Adam Fouche would get the most votes as least-likely to emulate Abbie Hoffman. That's not to say he isn't a free-thinker, but burning books just isn't his style. He's so clean-cut, we hear him squeaking when he walks down the hall.
The truth is, Adam knows that I have written several times about not just the need for school dress codes, but (horrors!) school uniforms. I'm one of those communists who wants to create a "generic student," only my term for that is to create students who are not so shallow and self-centered as to express their "creativity" by the clothes they wear. If the highest form of self-expression is found in our kids' closets rather than in their minds, then we are indeed a lost society.
But I do agree with Adam that we need a revolution in our schools, especially our college campuses like the one he treads in Athens. "You may not think you can fight against a powerful education system that attempts to poison your mind and destroy your individuality, your creativity and your sense of self," wrote Adam last week in his call for revolution.
Oh, I believe you can fight against such things, and I believe Adam's wicked way with words is just the tool to do that. So I've assigned Adam to revolt at the University of Georgia by writing term papers that rebel against the academic theology of political correctness. He will attempt to fight the poison being poured into his mind by liberal professors who spend more time discussing "diversity" and "multiculturalism" than they do actually teaching students.
Adam is going to rebel by writing term papers that openly question these professors. He's going to urge other students to do the same thing. He's even going to hold a book-burning on campus to rid it of these inane texts that espouse politically correct thinking.
It will take a lot of courage to do that. He's likely to flunk some courses because he's chosen not to think like the crowd and to be independent. He might even get booted out of school for attempting to rid the campus of teachers who refuse to recognize his own individuality and uniqueness.
But who knows? If he can start a revolt and get other students to fight along with him, what will the school do? They can't kick everyone out, can they? And even if they do, I agree with Adam that it's time for students to stand up for what they believe and to shake off the shackles that diminish their creativity.
Courage, Adam, courage. We're with you in this quest and will support you.
And oh, by the way Adam, I just wanted to let you know that The Herald has a new dress code which requires you to wear a white shirt, a tie and a suit.
I trust that this will not diminish your creativity or your ability to express yourself.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

(See Adam Fouche's Original Column)

Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
May 17, 2000

Tough Decisions Due In City On Water, Sewerage
The Commerce City Council faces some tough choices in the next year or two on the crucial but boring issues of water and sewer infrastructure.
The city is just now completing the $2 million upgrade of its water plant. It got a state permit this week to double the amount of water it pulls from the Grove River. Soon its plant will be permitted to process 4.5 million gallons a day. It's a good thing.
The bad news is that the city needs to spend about $5 million to expand its waste treatment plant. There is good news here too; the EPD appears to have agreed to let the city expand the treatment plant by 450,000 more gallons than expected. Expansion is a lot less costly than building from scratch.
Jackson County wants Commerce to provide sewer service to a proposed new access road leading from the Maysville Road west to Georgia 82 along I-85. The city has already agreed (with help from Jackson County) to lay sewer lines to serve the areas along I-85 that Progress Road will open to development.
Back on the water side, the city is beset with requests for service from all over - except in the city limits. The city has plenty of water to sell, but no way to get it to the people who want it the most except by building more lines. Under construction now is a line running around the B Wilson Road and Traynham Road to Waterworks Road. A new water tank is needed on the east side, somewhere between Waterworks Road and the Toyota plant.
Commerce has about $1 million in special purpose local option sales tax revenue left over that can be used for water and sewer work and will soon begin receiving proceeds of the SPLOST that began April 1. But it's got a lot more requests for expenditures than it has money to fund.
Into this comes the question of just how much money the city should spend beyond its corporate limits. To the taxpayer, the question is, what benefit does the city derive from providing water and sewer service outside the city limits?
There is money to be made on water sales, but none to be made providing sewer service. Commerce makes its money selling electricity and natural gas. Even inside the city limits, all of the property taxes collected goes to support the school system. Outside of the city, there is not even that benefit.
Every gallon of sewage treatment capacity sold will cost $12 to $20 to replace, because the next round of sewage treatment construction must be a spray irrigation system, a much more costly system. So, selling Jackson County a gallon of the inexpensive capacity now available means in the future Commerce will have to replace it with the more expensive capacity.
One view is that anything the city builds outside of the city limits should not cost the city taxpayers a cent, that the rate structure should cover the cost of building both the transmission or distribution system and the treatment capacity. That may not be possible.
The city will build the sewer plant expansion. What will be more interesting and more important is how it handles sewer requests from outside the city.

The Jackson Herald
May 17, 2000

ITBS is one part of the picture
Standardized test are both loved and loathed: Loved when the scores are high, loathed when the results are low.
It's true, of course, that lacking any other convenient and independent method of measuring a school's effectiveness, standardized tests have become academic thermometers. That's especially true with the annual Iowa Tests of Basic Skills which are given in elementary and middle schools. Some people even buy their homes based on a local school's test results, hoping that high ITBS scores reflect a high quality of education.
While we wouldn't suggest that people make such important life decisions based simply on the ITBS scores, we don't dismiss those results as being totally inconsequential either. Despite all the flaws of such testing, the numbers do tell us something about how well a local school performs. If viewed broadly, the results can indicate which schools have a superior performance and which schools are having major problems.
So what should parents look for? We believe the following are key points to keep in mind when looking at ITBS results:
· Look for patterns in the results across all grades. Consistent high results in all grades is an indicator that the school is performing well. Consistent low results may indicate the opposite.
· Don't buy into the "we're above average" mentality. Rather, look for superior results with ITBS scores above 65 on the high end. Scores below 55 should be reason for concern.
· Put the results into the context of the community to really see how well a school does. Schools in poor communities that have a score of 60 are probably doing a good job. That same score in a wealthy community wouldn't mean very much, however. While poverty is not a roadblock to academic success, it is an indicator that perhaps many students haven't had the same level of academic exposure as their peers in wealthier communities.
· If the overall score is unusually high or low, look beneath the surface to see why. Although the overall composite results are important, the various sub-parts that make up that number should be looked at to see where a school may be weak or strong.
· More than anything else, ITBS results are affected by reading levels. High reading scores almost always mean high test scores overall. Make sure your school emphasizes the importance of reading.
There is no shortage of critics of the ITBS and other standardized tests. Indeed, those tests do not measure the "whole" student. The fine arts, for example, are not measured on these tests.
Still, if viewed with a little common sense, standardized test results can help parents and community leaders understand both the strengths and weaknesses of their local schools.
They are one part of the picture for those who seek such understanding.

The Commerce News
May 17, 2000

Harold Swindle Was A True Public Servant
Jackson County, Nicholson in particular, lost one of its leading and most beloved citizens last week when Harold Swindle died. Swindle served 18 years as mayor of Nicholson, nine two-year terms for which he seldom had any opposition.
Swindle was not loved because he was mayor; he was mayor because he was loved, and as he conducted city council meetings he found it difficult to turn down requests from people in need. He was not "Mayor Swindle" to his constituents, but rather "Mr. Harold," and he served all of those years without pay. His remuneration came from serving the people.
Although his heart was in his home town, Swindle was also a believer in the larger community of Jackson County, never getting caught up in the pettiness that sometimes plagues intergovernmental relations. "Mr. Harold" did what he though was best, and he was seldom wrong. It is a cliche to say of the departed that they will be missed, but certainly Harold Swindle is missed. His death leaves a huge void, but his life of humble service is a fitting legacy. Those who would offer themselves in service to the voters and their communities would do well to emulate Harold Swindle's attitude.

By Adam Fouche
The Madison County Journal
May 10, 2000

It's time for a revolution
against the dress code
For too long now, the rules, the guidelines and all the silly little regulations have ruled the society we supposedly control. But, a new sun is breaking through the clouds above society's decaying horizon. It's time to end our culture's communist-inspired dress code rituals. A revolution is imminent.
I live in a democratic society founded on basic inalienable rights. I have been given the right to dress how I want to dress. But somehow, this society I live in has found a way to dictate who I am and how I express myself. The time has come for a change.
The older generation of years ago that set the standards we now live by has disintegrated. The guidelines are old and out of date, and, frankly, I don't care for them. We must now make our own rules and decide on new standards.
Sometimes, I want to wear shorts and a Hawaiian shirt to work. But I can't. Society says it isn't acceptable attire in the workplace. Why not? I'm wadding society's guidelines into a crumpled ball and throwing them out my window.
I urge all you teenagers in school to revolt. For too long now you have followed the orders of a Nazi-like regime that wishes to create a generic pupil. It is unhealthy. It is wrong. And as Americans, you shouldn't stand for it.
Take your dress code and tear it up. Burn it in the streets. Throw it in the trash. Read it aloud on the steps of the school and shout out to the world that you are not going to dress like that anymore.
You may not think you can fight against a powerful education system that attempts to poison your mind and destroy your individuality, your creativity and your sense of self. But you can.
Tomorrow, when you go to school, ignore the dress code. Forget the consequences. If you want to wear a tank top, do it. If you want to wear short shorts, wear them. Our country was founded on revolution and protest against what is seen as unfair, and the time has now come to abolish the dress code.
Why must you dress to please others? Why can't you be yourself? Why can't you control your own life? Nothing says you can't.
If you want it, go after it. Don't just sit there and let your life be controlled. Take charge of yourself. Wear what you want to wear.
If enough of you defy the dress code, the system will be powerless. They won't be able to punish everyone. They won't be able to send everyone home from school. They won't be able to stop you all.
With enough protest and enough dissent, the rules will be changed. Politicians don't like protest. If they hear it enough, they will back down. They always have, and they always will. Their position depends on public opinion.
Don't compromise your identity. Exercise your right as an American. Show the government that they might not know what is best for you. Show them that they don't always know what is right.
Defy them. Disobey them. Tell them to leave you alone. You will be doing what is best; you will be doing what is right; and you will be doing what is American. My children, your children, our children will thank us.
We, as a young generation of new leaders, shouldn't have to live by rules made in a society all too different from our own. It is time for us to take our own reins and decide how we want to live.
Adam Fouche is a reporter for MainStreet Newspapers.

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