Jackson County Opinions...

April 11, 2001

By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
April 11, 2001

Maysville Smart To Steer Clear Of Banks Co. Flag
Three cheers for Maysville's town council for asking that the city not be represented on the proposed Banks County flag.
I thought it was stupid when Commerce decided it needed a flag (and it was), but at least our city fathers didn't create a flag that insulted anything more than the intelligence of its residents. Banks County's commissioners, in a knee-jerk reaction to the Georgia flag controversy, decided that Banks County needed its own flag. The design chosen featured the very emblem that made Georgia's flag controversial, the St. Andrew's Cross.
The Banks County Chamber of Commerce jumped into the fray, endorsing the flag and calling it something to unite the county. That led one prominent member to resign from the chamber, and an outpouring of support for the flag from people who think it preserves some kind of county heritage.
Perhaps the heritage to feel superior to blacks. The pro and con emotions embroiled around the former state flag now engulf the Banks County Commissioners and the chamber of commerce, whose president has made condescending remarks about blacks in its support. Hence Maysville's wise decision. Homer is said to be considering the same.
The Banks County flag contains seven stars representing its seven municipalities, six of which are also partly located in other counties.
It says something that Banks County officials designed a flag that contains an emblem everyone knows is offensive to many members of the community. You'd think that in creating a flag, a government would go to great lengths to avoid causing offense. It's a little bit like a German town creating a flag incorporating the old Nazi swastika and wondering why Jews don't appreciate the reference to German heritage.
In one way, it is a fitting flag. The old Georgia flag was rushed into duty as a means by which Georgia could thumb its nose at the federal government for its integration efforts. The late Rep. Willis Harden Sr. of Banks County was one of the sponsors of legislation creating that official flag. Almost 50 years later, the Banks County flag will signal not that the county is honoring its history, but that it has no respect for its black citizens.
Can you imagine Banks County competing to locate a national company to some industrial site and watching the company delegation's reaction when members catch their first glimpse of the county flag?
Maysville made the right decision. It can pay tribute to its heritage by being progressive, by preserving its old houses, by welcoming all people to a community known for its hospitality. Maysville is looking to the future; it needs no flag, especially one that is designed intentionally to be so divisive.
Below the state level, the whole flag business is just silliness. Commerce created its flag so Bob Sosebee would have something to carry in the "parade of cities" at a Georgia Municipal Association convention. Banks County appears to have created its flag just to show Gov. Roy Barnes that narrow-mindedness flourishes in Banks County. Now that's a heritage to preserve.
Mark Beardsley is editor of The Commerce News.

The Jackson Herald
April 11, 2001

Nix Jefferson salary study
So Jefferson is again going to study a salary structure for city employees.
Pardon our grammar, but it won't mean diddly. It's a waste of time and money.
The problem in Jefferson isn't the lack of a salary structure, it's the lack of a disciplined city council. The truth is, the city already has a salary structure, but it hasn't been followed since it was adopted in 1996.
We've covered this ground before, but it bears repeating: Jefferson has a messed-up salary system because it has city councilmen assigned to oversee individual city departments. Councilmen with too much time on their hands meddle in "their" departments, often making major decisions on a whim. Councilmembers get jealous of other departments and demand that "their" employees make just as much as employees in other departments.
Education isn't considered. Job requirements aren't considered. The level of responsibility isn't considered. In fact, we aren't sure exactly what does matter in city employee pay.
On top of that, overtime pay is openly abused to raise some salaries so that certain department heads won't make less than another department head.
Just about all of these problems fall into the lap of the city council, which has a long, messy history of wrangling over employee pay. The council simply lacks the political will to be objective about city employee pay or performance.
Fortunately, next year the city will move to a city manager government and council members will no longer have the authority to meddle in city operations.
But it'll take more than just a city manager to shake up the city - it'll take some new blood on the city council to change years of employee mismanagement.
Jefferson's growing and has a mounting list of needs. Those needs are being ignored, however, because the city's leadership is more focused on protecting turf than they are in serving the interests of the people who elected them.

By Mike Buffington
The Jackson Herald
April 11, 2001

Schools bias against girls?
If you believe in political correctness, don't read this column. If you are a fan of Jane Fonda and her brand of liberalism, don't read this column.
Now that I've weeded out all the fuzzy-thinking folks, I want the rest of you to know just how nutty our society has become. Last week, I received an email from the Georgia Supreme Court, one of dozens of routine news releases we get every day. Usually I just delete the files before even opening them, but for some reason I decided to read this one.
The release announced that the court would be hosting 50 young girls on April 26 for the "Take Our Daughters to Work Day." Nothing bad about that, but read the following paragraphs which were also included in the memo:

"Research shows that adolescent girls tend to have lower expectations for their futures than boys. Girls also tend to receive less attention in school and in extra-curricular activities. This has a direct correlation to levels of academic achievement and may later cause serious problems. The courts are dedicated to becoming involved at a stage when young girls may most benefit from intervention.
"Take Our Daughters to Work Day is a day for girls to be visible, valued, and heard. On that day, girls will see that women have a wide range of life-options. They will be given more reasons to do their best in school and continue their education. Girls will receive the extra support that they need to believe in themselves. They will be encouraged to expand the possibilities of their lives. This is a day of learning - an educational opportunity to ensure that girls remain resilient, self-confident and in school."

It's a core belief of the fuzzy-thinking set that society is made up of "victims" who need "intervention" to pull them up. In recent years, a small group of these folks have claimed that girls are denied equal treatment in school and that boys somehow get more attention in the classroom. Girls have thus been labeled as "victims" of our educational system and need extra "support ... to believe in themselves."
It's all poppycock. There is no valid research to back up such an assertion. It's a political agenda, not an education agenda, that underlies that theory.
No one would deny that girls and boys are different. The way they learn is different. The way they behave is different.
But to say that girls are victims of a bias educational system is absurd. If there are any gender biases in our schools, it is against boys, not girls.
Some would say I'm biased myself on this subject since I have two sons and no daughters. Perhaps I am. But the facts back me up. For example, at one local elementary school last year, fourth grade girls taking the CRCT test dramatically outperformed boys. In reading, 48 percent of the girls performed at the highest level while only 30 percent of the boys were in the top group. In language arts, 35 percent of the girls were in the top group while only eight percent of the boys were in the upper third. And in math, 20 percent of the girls were in the upper third while only 11 percent of the boys had that level of achievement. I suspect those results echo through most schools where girls outperform boys in just about every standardized test.
For another measure, look at the ratio of disciplinary actions in a school. Far more boys than girls get in trouble in school. One administrator told me that over 90 percent of the discipline problems are with young boys. Likewise, far more boys are classified with ADHD problems than girls. And more male students drop out of school than female students.
Finally, consider that most schools have far more female teachers and administrators than male teachers or administrators. That's especially true in the lower grades where finding a male teacher is rare. We have far more female role models in our schools than male role models and I doubt that our female teacher are somehow bias against their own gender.
The truth is, schools do not have some inherent bias against girls. If anything, our society and our schools are ill-equipped to deal with the academic problems of young boys. For an excellent in-depth article on this, see "The War Against Boys" at: www.theatlantic.com/issues/2000/05/ sommers.htm)
One final thought: If the judges of our state's highest court support this "girls-need-more-help" mentality, as they obviously do based on their news release, then why are these same judges putting more young males behind bars than young girls?
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.

The Commerce News
April 11, 2001

Message Of Jesus Just As Valid As On First Easter
The Christian world's most important holiday occurs this week. Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, which Christians say proved that Jesus was indeed the son of God. Christmas celebrates the birth of Christ, but without the cross and the empty tomb of Easter, Christmas would be just another day. It was Easter that gave life to Christianity.
It can be argued that the United States is no longer a Christian nation, because the percentage of people affiliated with Christian churches has diminished. But any poll asking people what, if any, religious affiliation they have indicates that the majority still claim Christianity.
Tradition has it that Jesus was crucified Friday afternoon, buried that night and arose upon Sunday morning, after which he was seen on Earth numerous times before ascending into heaven.
Christian church lore notes that God sent Jesus into the world so the world might be saved. A reading of the life of Christ in the New Testament gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John shows a remarkable man whose teachings are needed just as much today as they were then. Jesus, though sent as a king, was the definition of humility. Though destined to be worshiped, he came to Earth in service to others. Though scorned and persecuted, Jesus taught and practiced forgiveness. Though he would be in charge of judging the world, Jesus taught us not to judge each other. Above all, he instructed us to love one another and demonstrated for us how to do it.
Religion in general and Christianity in particular have fallen woefully short of following his example. Too often, religion is used as a pretext for judgment, for hatred or for mistreatment. So-called Christianity has killed millions, destroyed cultures and often all but ignored the teachings of Christ ­ in the very name of Christ.
Two thousand years after Christ died, Christianity faces more challenges than ever. Its own house is woefully divided and much of what occurs in organized religion seems unrelated to the life of Jesus. Our culture opposes his turn-the-other-cheek and walk-the-extra-mile philosophies. Anger, frustration, depravity, meanness and impatience are rampant. Millions of people searching for meaning in their lives seek it in cults, trends, chemical substances, alcohol, money, power or possessions.
Yet Easter takes us back to the basic tenet of Christianity. Jesus suffered and died for each of us, so that each might develop a personal relationship through which salvation might be granted. Even in 2001, Jesus' life of simplicity, love and humility shines as a beacon to remind us that happiness is found not in our position nor in our possessions, but in our relationships with God and with one another. Easter reminds Christians that God sent Jesus in love, and if God thought enough of us to sacrifice a beloved son, we really ought to love one another just as Jesus taught. That was the message Jesus brought. It was simple that first Easter; it's just as simple on Easter 2001.

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