The Commerce News
May 30, 2001
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
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
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
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.
The Jackson Herald
May 30, 2001
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
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
· 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.
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
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
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
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
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
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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