Madison County Opinion...

Janaury 09, 2002


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
January 09, 2002

Frankly Speaking

Problems with the federal education bill
As I write this, our president is traveling around the country promoting and signing the latest federal education bill. I have real problems with this bill.
First, I cannot find any clause in the U.S. Constitution authorizing the federal government to be involved in education. There is a clear statement that the federal government is limited to those powers enumerated in the Constitution. Based on these facts, I am of the opinion that any federal education program, even the federal department of education, is unconstitutional. Education is the responsibility of the family and community, not the federal government.
Second, I have a real problem with government-mandated testing programs. Standardized testing is based on the idea that every child is the same.
It leads to a program in which all students are forced to learn the same lessons with no room for variations. Teachers are pushed into teaching to the test, not to the individual talents and temperament of each student. The result is a student body of robots.
While I was in the military, I encountered a teaching program that was especially effective in bringing out the best in the student, and allowed the student to develop his/her unique talents. It was called ³Performance Oriented Training.² In this system, the subject to be taught is broken down into its basic elements. The student learns these blocks of information one at a time. The ³test² consists of the ability to perform each block of information. Either they know the material or they donıt. They continue to study the material until they can demonstrate their mastery of it.
As the student masters each basic block of information, they are moved to the next segment. After all basic blocks are mastered, they are taught to assemble them into advanced systems. This system can apply to basic subjects such as grammar or math. When a child can count, they are ready to add and subtract, and so forth.
Students will advance rapidly in some subjects and require more work in others. Each student will master those subjects in which they have ability or interest. Each student will receive instruction as needed on an individual basis and not be forced into subjects that are beyond their ability or interest. At the same time, each student will devote the time necessary to master each subject, not be forced to move along with the class regardless of their achievements.
Education should be a highly personal procedure. Parents and teachers should determine the needs of each student and tailor a program for their individual needs and abilities. No government bureaucrat, whether in Washington or Atlanta, should be involved in this process.
Our current educational situation is another example of our government taking away the rights and responsibilities of the citizens. If government will return the responsibility for children to their parents, and only act to ensure that the parents fulfill their responsibility, we will have a well-rounded, well-educated, diverse and creative population, the kind that created the greatness of this nation.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His email address is frankg@mcga.net.

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Column
B y Rochelle Beckstine
The Madison County Journal
January 09, 2002

A Few Words From Me

Snow Day
It still amazes me after 22 years how everything shuts down when snow flies.
Iım a native Georgian yet I canıt help but wonder right along with the Michigan transplant why Georgians run from a few flurries.
Snowıs coming, itıs shouted from television networks to radio stations. Word of mouth has the snow growing from one inch to half a foot and from half a foot to a weather system to rival the snowstorm of ı93. (How much snow fell that time? Was it enough to go skiing in, I wonder.)
Stores close. Businesses let employees leave early. Now the grocery stores stay open, but thatıs because itıs their biggest day of the year. Itıs as if the governor announces: ³Everyone can go home early, everyone except grocery store clerks and anyone who works at Super Wal-Mart.² Because everyone knows Wal-Mart is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Natural disasters donıt close the Wal-Mart.
On my drive home last Wednesday, I passed several deserted parking lots. The Metro Mattress Outlet was even closed and I swear the owner actually sleeps there because his open sign is on at 7 in the morning when I drive by and at 11 at night.
Do you know where the hot spot was as snow was sticking to the ground and businesses were closing? The Ingles, next to the Metro Mattress Outlet. It was swamped. Iıve never seen so many cars in Winder, let alone parked at the same location. I know everyone was buying bread. No question in my mind. It snows, you buy bread. Itıs peanut butter and jelly. Coffee and cream. Salt and pepper.
Reports of possible snow must fill the bakersı heads with thoughts of early retirement. I never see as many people at the supermarket as I do when snow is reportedly possibly maybe going to fall. The weatherman could even say no accumulation and bread still flies off the shelves. I think it should be named the eighth or ninth wonder of the world. Even loafless as I was last Wednesday, I drove right on past the Ingles. I have flour, yeast, salt and water.
Like other Georgians, I stayed home in my nice warm house on Thursday. I felt I would be fine to drive in it, but after working a three-day week Christmas week, I didnıt see why the week after Christmas should be any different. Three days off. New Yearıs Eve. New Yearıs Day. And Snow Day 2002.
I bundled my kid up like moms are wont to do. She had on so many layers, she couldnıt lift her arms. But she was warm. She made her first snow angel. Had her picture made in the first snow of her life. And watched her mother make a fool of herself trying to sled down our hill.
I honestly donıt know what I was thinking. Snow is cold and wet. Two things I donıt really care for. I had enough of both back in the blizzard of 1993. Yet something about having a new baby made me want to try sledding. I thought I remembered enjoying sledding. Maybe. One plastic pool and several somersaults later and Iım not sure my memory was so good. The pool edged very slowly until my husband decided to give me a push. The man doesnıt know his own strength. He pushed me one handed, holding Piper in the other arm. The pool flew and I flew right along with it, face first into the snow. Didnıt learn my lesson though. Sledding must be done on plastic garbage bags, I thought. Yeah. Right. The snow at least cushioned my fall when I took a running start with my bag. I donıt know why I thought plastic would go somewhere on snow. It seemed right, but looking back I donıt think Iıll try that again.
Several hot showers and a long soak in a warm tub later and Iıve decided sledding wasnıt half bad. It could have been worse. I could have been dirty, wet and cold.
Rochelle Beckstine is a columnist for MainStreet Newspapers.


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