Madison County Opinion...

AUGUST 6, 2003


Column
By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
August 6, 2003

Frankly Speaking

No HOPE for the hopeless
A Recent news reports reveal problems in Georgia’s HOPE scholarship program.
In spite of the millions of dollars being raised by the Georgia Lottery, the cost of the HOPE program is exceeding available revenues.
State law requires that any student with a “B” average be given a HOPE scholarship. In the past, the state has used a creative scoring system to qualify as many students as possible. Now that the money is running out, they are looking for ways to tighten qualifications for the grants.
For example, a student who has a “D” on his record, but does not need that course to meet high school graduation standards is allowed to drop the “D” from his record for scholarship purposes. In the future, that opportunity may be lost. Another possibility is to change to a numeric scoring system which would weed out many of the lesser qualified students.
In my opinion, these changes would make a basically unfair system even more unfair. The HOPE program financed by the Georgia Lottery is already a case of taxing the poor to benefit the rich. With the new requirements, the chances that children of poor families obtaining scholarships are even less.
The majority of all lottery tickets sold in Georgia are purchased by those in the lower income groups. These already cash strapped people are lured into the state’s gambling parlors in hopes of winning big money, something that only a handful will ever accomplish.
At the same time Georgia’s major colleges like Georgia Southern, UGA and Georgia Tech are being swamped by applications from HOPE scholarship students, forcing them to constantly raise standards in order to limit enrollment to a reasonable level. With only the most qualified students receiving HOPE scholarships, these large schools will receive the major portion of funds. Schools that try to assist the less qualified students, those schools most likely to have financial problems, are being cut out of the HOPE program.
To me, the HOPE program is misnamed. It gives no hope to the most hopeless of our citizens. Rather, it limits assistance to those who least need it. The plans to tighten requirements for the scholarships will make matters worse.
Rather than paying for the education of our elite students, those who will gain their degrees with or without the assistance, HOPE money should be used to lift up the less qualified of our students. For example, many students leaving high school are not prepared to do college level work. They need special classes to bring them up to speed before starting college courses.
Just as HOPE money is used for pre-K programs to get young students ready for grade school, it should also be used for pre-college programs that prepares students to perform at college level.
Another HOPE program ought to be dedicated to parents of marginal students. Those students who excel in school do so because of parental involvement.
Those families without a tradition of educational achievement produce students who are not prepared to achieve academic excellence. A program that helps these parents be more supportative of their students would produce more positive results than any other expenditure of funds the state can devise.
I have never cared for the lottery. It taxes the poor to benefit the rich.
But if we are going to have a lottery, we should find a way to make it benefit those who buy the tickets. The current HOPE program clearly fails this test.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at www.mcga.net. His e-mail address is frankg@mcga.net.

Column
By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
August 6, 2003

Moment With Margie

Trip to Outer Banks was special
I know I’ve had a good vacation when I continue to think about it long after it’s over.
That’s how I feel about this year’s vacation.
Although it’s been two months since our family traveled to North Carolina’s Outer Banks, I still find myself thinking of it often.
One reason, I guess, was because it really was a “family vacation” — something we hadn’t been able to coordinate in several years, since Miranda went off to college. This time not only did the four of us go, we even took our little dog, Crickett.
If you plan a trip to the Outer Banks, remember, it may not look that far on the map, but take my word for it, it is a long, long road trip. Our vacation spot was Hatteras Village on Hatteras Island, near the famous Cape Hatteras lighthouse, which meant once we took the bridge and causeway from the mainland over to the northern Outer Banks, we still had a good hour and a half or so of driving on a two lane road to get to our destination near the southern end.
But that said, the trip was well worth it once we did arrive.
First of all, the more than 200 miles of “outer banks” - a string of islands about 25 miles off the North Carolina coast - is a narrow stretch of land; in many places you can see Pamlico Sound on one side and the Atlantic on the other as you drive along.
Most probably think of the Wright Brothers, when they hear of the Outer Banks, and probably is the area’s greatest “claim to fame.” In fact it was 100 years ago this year when the brothers made their first successful attempt to get their “flying machine” off the ground, spawning the beginnings of air flight today. It all happened on a dune overlooking the ocean on the Outer Banks in the village of Kitty Hawk.
At times as we rode along we could see windsurfers out in the sound taking advantage of the prevailing winds, at other times people were fishing or sailing, or could be seen walking over the dunes toward the ocean, picnic hampers and fishing gear in hand. It is a fisherman’s paradise, from all accounts.
Four-wheel drive vehicles abounded, taking advantage of the many areas along the Cape Hatteras National Seashore where vehicles are allowed to drive along the beach.
The individual islands that make up the Outer Banks are connected by bridges, and/or ferries, while a few are accessible only by boat.
We passed through villages along the way with quaint names like “Kill Devil Hills, “Nags Head,” “Whalebone Junction,” Rodanthe, Waves and Salvo.
We opened the windows to breathe in the invigorating ocean breezes and Crickett immediately stuck her nose out, sucking in the air and wagging her tail excitedly at the appearance of sea gulls - she has a particular “fondness” for birds.
Whenever we stopped in traffic I had to be sure I had a firm grip on her collar to prevent her tumbling out the window in her excitement over all the strange new sights, particularly the gulls, terns and other water birds visible from every direction.
The Outer Banks is a stopover for many varieties of birds, making it a bird watcher’s paradise as well.
Our destination, Hatteras Island, is the last of the islands connected by bridge to the others, but you can board a free ferry in Hatteras Village for a 40 minute ride to the little fishing village on Ocracoke on Ocracoke Island farther south. From there, a toll ferry ($15 per passenger car) can take you on the 25 mile 2.5 hour trip to the mainland. Other boats can be hired to travel farther south on the Banks, such as to Portsmouth or Cape Lookout.
For our part, once we settled in our rental house in Hatteras Village, we stuck to riding around the island, which, of course, included visiting the Cape Hatteras lighthouse, reopened for the first time this year to the public since its move several years ago from a perilous position too close to the strong Atlantic currents that are forever pushing the string of islands westward.
Built in 1870, it is the tallest brick beacon in the US, standing an impressive 208 feet high. It’s spiral-striped black and white design is known world-wide.
Yet another claim to fame for the Outer Banks is the dubious title of “Graveyard of the Atlantic” due to the more than 1,000 known shipwrecks that rest somewhere just off the coast. Artifacts from the wrecks still wash ashore on a regular basis, particularly after a storm, but federal law strictly prohibits anyone from removing them.
We took a day to travel by the free ferry to Ocracoke. This little island’s claim to fame is that it is where pirate Edward Teach (aka Blackbeard) was beheaded in 1718.
It is also the final resting place of four British Royal Navy sailors whose bodies were washed ashore after their ship (one of many) was
For the rest of this story see this weeks Madison County Journal

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