Jackson County Opinions...

May 30, 2001



Column
By Mark Beardsley
The Commerce News
May 30, 2001

Change Labor Day Holiday To A Friday
Normally, this glowing epistle is written Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, occasionally Monday, but never on Tuesday, because that's way past our deadline.
This column is being typed on Tuesday, a result of the combination of a holiday weekend and more than the usual amount of procrastination.
Monday marked the first Memorial Day I've had off in memory. In the weekly newspaper business, Monday holidays wreak havoc and are generally avoided unless Christmas, New Year's or July 4 falls thereon. The exception was Labor Day, which we have traditionally taken off.
Last year, the powers that be in Mainstreet Newspapers, after intense consultations and much hand-wringing, decided to give us Memorial Day and make us work Labor Day ­ which almost makes sense.
The upshot of all that is that I, like most of America not connected with outlet malls, 24-hour convenience operations and food service, had yesterday off.
This morning, as I ponder the to-do pile on my desk, I wonder if Monday holidays are really worth it. It seemed so yesterday as I drove in the mountains around Clayton, but in the brighter light of Tuesday morning, it seems less clear. At this moment, I wish I had worked on Monday.
I am of the opinion that if George W. Bush wants to do something to help the nation's economy, he will strike from the calendar all Monday holidays, moving them to the following Fridays. If George Washington's birthday can always be observed on a Monday, it should be no problem to move it to a Friday.
Friday-Saturday-Sunday long weekends seem like, well, nice, long weekends. Saturday-Sunday-Monday long weekends, on the other hand, come across as unnatural, even illicit.
I would argue to Mr. Bush that Monday is a more productive day and thus should not be given up so easily. Americans one and all grouse about having to go to work on Monday, but after a couple of cups of coffee actually get some work done. On Friday, however, nothing productive happens once the paychecks are delivered. Maybe you haven't noticed, Mr. President, but no one is on the job after about 1:00 on Friday afternoons. Even your missile defense shield won't work if the Peruvian Air Force decides to attack America on a Friday, because there won't be anyone there to push the right buttons. I digress.
Now maybe because of the business I'm in, it's just me, but having Monday off feels unnatural. In fact, it is very hard to enjoy such a Monday because I know what Tuesday will be like. If I miss a Friday, however, there is no residual effect the following Monday.
By its very nature, Monday is a day to be endured, and allowing us to take it off helps only so much. Our organization compensates by declaring the preceding Friday to be a Monday, which really ruins an otherwise fine day. I actually had to work until 5:00 last Friday, and I didn't appreciate it a bit.
If Mr. Bush can really build coalitions, this is his opportunity. Certainly, this is not a partisan issue. Bring the country together, Mr. President. Change all Monday holidays to Fridays. For the good of all.



Editorial
The Jackson Herald
May 30, 2001

Study test scores carefully
It's that time of year when the results of various school testing are released. In recent years, these standardized tests have come under increasing scrutiny from parents and the public.
That is both good and bad. The emphasis on standardized testing has certainly made school leaders more responsive to pressures designed to improve public education. On the other hand, some schools have gone overboard in promoting the tests, leading critics to charge that school simply "teach the test" rather than following a broader curriculum.
The truth of the matter probably lies somewhere in the middle. Standardized testing can give parents and the community some useful information about a school's overall performance. But these tests shouldn't be the only way we measure how well a school performs. They do not measure, for example, how well a school does with its fine arts programs.
Over the next couple of years, students in Georgia's public schools will be moving through a testing transition as the new state-mandated CRCT test is put into place. Most schools will likely phase out the older ITBS test that has been around for decades and replace it with the Stanford 9 test. Other changes are also likely to follow as the state pushes its accountability strategy in public education.
With all of this in mind, we offer the following suggestions as a guide to help parents wade through all the testing results:
· Know what is being tested and how the test itself is scored. Some tests compare students to national norms while other tests are based only on state results.
· Ask questions. If you are uncertain about what your child's test results say, ask his teacher or some other school official.
· Keep tests results in context. Look at the student's or school's results over several years to see if there are any trends in the data.
· Know what "average" really means. Schools often say their results are "above average," but find out what that really means. Sometimes, even being "above average" isn't very good.
· Talk to other parents to see what their views on the testing may be. There are a number of variables in these tests, so make sure you understand a many details as possible.
· Finally, look at your child's school as a whole, not just in terms of testing results. Know its strengths and weaknesses and see if the test results follow your "gut" instinct.

Column
The Jackson Herald
May 30, 2001

This 'n' that on the passing scene
The DFACS-House of Prayer drama in Atlanta is playing out like a right-winger's nightmare. The ultra-right has long accused the government of having too much power to take children out of homes with little or no evidence of child abuse.
That may or may not be the case with the controversial House of Prayer sect, but the hasty return this week of the children taken earlier by DFACS appears to lend credibility to that argument.
Of course, DFACS has been getting flak from all sides recently. They're either too slow to remove a child from abuse and the child dies, or they're too quick to grab children on thin allegations.
Maybe it's time for an impartial look at how that agency is being run.
***
I'm getting tired of all the whining and doomsday predictions from those who opposed President Bush's tax cut. Our ancestors threw tea in the Boston Harbor over a smaller tax than what we're paying now.
The truth is, a large percentage of our population no longer pays any federal income tax. The rest of us, society's producers, are being taxed to support the lack of production by these slackers.
The federal tax system is broken. In fact, it should be abandoned in favor of some type of sales tax. But until that day arrives, there's nothing wrong with giving back some of the money to those of us who actually paid it.
***
If I read another article that blames the suburbs for all of society's problems, I'll scream. The word "suburb" is now always packaged with the word "sprawl" and we're told that "suburban sprawl" is the great evil of our society.
I consider myself as environmentally conscious as the next person, but to blame all our problems on soccer moms in SUVs is nuts. There are too many environmental groups looking for a handout and the only way they can survive is to create a false hysteria about the evils of suburban lifestyles.
Of course, the "green" answer to "sprawl" is for government to control where and how we choose to live. They call it "smart growth," but what that really means is that people could no longer live on large lots out in the country. Rather, smart growth advocates want us all to live in dense clusters, such as high-rise buildings, where we can all walk to work and "save greenspace."
It's time for sensible people to tell these greenies to take a hike. If we want to live on a five-acre lot, there's nothing wrong with that. If we choose to drive a SUV, then that's our right as a consumer.
***
The program last Friday night at Jackson County Comprehensive High School which honored local veterans was a first-class event. Students from the high school band, chorus and JROTC all not only performed well, but they did it with a sense of respect and dignity seldom seen today.
Elsewhere in this paper is a photo of one of the most interesting aspects of the event - on the field last Friday were three Pearl Harbor survivors. With the new movie about Pearl Harbor just released, interest in that historic event will no doubt increase. And just think, those three men standing together last Friday are a living link to one of the defining moments of the 20th century.
Amazing.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.


Editorial
The Commerce News
May 30, 2001

Good Work, Graduates
Friday night is a night a lot of Commerce High School and Jackson County area high school students (and their parents) have long awaited. After 13 or more years, the days of public schooling are finally over.
That is no small thing in a state that has one of the highest dropout rates in the nation and in a time when few jobs are available for workers who lack high school diplomas. Whether the future holds college, vocational school, military service or a job, the high school diploma is the key to entry.
That key opens the doors for career and personal growth, doors that are largely shut to the young people who fail to complete high school. Students who fail to gain a high school diploma (or its equivalency) are left behind.
The education process not only continues after graduation, but it actually accelerates as students meet the challenges of further education, military service or careers, but it will be upon the foundation of elementary, middle and high school years that all future learning and growth takes place.
Now the graduates are children no longer. They are young adults ready to assume their places in the real world. We congratulate each graduate on taking that step and wish them well as the path of learning continues.

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