The Madison County Journal
October 6, 1999
suit not in kids' interests
We expect a school board
to follow one credo - "put kids first."
Look at some of the good things going on at Madison County schools
and you'll see evidence that school leaders have done that. There's
the construction of the new elementary school as well as additions
to the middle school and high school - all signs that the school
board is taking steps to handle growth in the coming years. There's
the superintendent's plan for earning accreditation with the
Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) for all county
schools, aligning the school system with the national Foundation
for Excellent Schools program, a sign that leaders are taking
steps to ensure quality education for kids. There are also plans
for a school sports complex that have many excited.
Few will dispute that Dennis Moore and the current school board
have brought about some positive changes in the school system.
That's what makes the recent school system suit against the county
over a building inspection issue so perplexing. If school leaders
are doing all of these good things for the sake of county children,
why have they chosen to wage a power struggle that clearly puts
kids' safety on the back burner?
The school system wants county inspectors to stay out of its
buildings. School board attorney Lane Fitzpatrick said the county's
denial of permits for electrical hookups at two mobile units
at Colbert Elementary in August put the schools in a bind. If
unchallenged, the denial of permits could have left kids without
a class to learn in, Fitzpatrick pointed out Tuesday in court.
The attorney and the school board want to avoid such situations
in the future.
Fitzpatrick said that schools should not be subject to county
regulations, or vice versa. Basically, you mind your business,
we'll mind ours.
"We're our own little kingdom, so to speak, within the confines
of Madison County," Fitzpatrick told Judge Lindsay Tise
Granted, delaying the occupation of a building is not a flowery
option for schools, especially overcrowded ones. But school leaders
giving the axe to local safety checks to avoid possible inconveniences
is a poor move.
The better plan is for schools and the county to work hand in
hand to avoid delays and to ensure safety for children in classrooms.
Parents and county taxpayers aren't so concerned whether their
local school board is an autonomous governing body, free from
outside regulations. No, they want to know that their child is
safe in school. One of the best ways to promise this is by providing
as many safety checks of school facilities as possible. Move
away from this premise and you're not acting in the interest
Just like a newspaper, where more editing means fewer mistakes,
more building inspections means fewer faulty electrical hookups
and less potential for disaster.
The county's building inspectors provide an important service
to the schools. They should continue to do so.
Moore, Fitzpatrick and the county school board should drop the
suit and work as a team with local inspectors.
School leaders should understand that such action is in the best
interest of the kids of Madison County.
Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison
The Madison County Journal
October 6, 1999
- Frankly Speaking
- UGA shouldn't offer special admittance
Officials at the University of Georgia are bracing for a lawsuit
over their admissions policy. The suit is being filed on behalf
of several white girls who were denied admission to the University
even though they have better SAT scores than many black and male
applicants who were accepted.
The reason given by the University is that the student body consists
of more white females than any other category. They argue that
the campus should be more diverse, and it is necessary to give
black and male students extra consideration in order to keep
their numbers up.
I am of the opinion that the University of Georgia should discontinue
all special classifications for admittance. There should be one
academic standard. Any student who meets the standard should
be admitted. This rule should apply to all races and sexes. It
should apply to football players and the children of alumni.
No student should be admitted to the University who is not prepared
to do the class work necessary to get a degree. The University
should not be offering remedial courses to students who are not
ready for college. The University ought to be devoting all of
its resources to giving those eligible students the best possible
education. To do less is not fair to the students, and reduces
the value of their diplomas.
At the same time, I feel that any student who is willing to make
the effort to achieve a higher education ought to have a chance
to do so. Such students deserve a second chance to earn the right
to attend the University. If they failed to learn enough in high
school, no matter why, they ought to have an opportunity to return
to the high school level for further classes. This would be an
excellent use for a charter school.
Why not have schools where students can upgrade their high school
diploma? They can dedicate their time to those subjects that
kept them out of college, or the military or any other opportunity
that requires that they pass a qualifying test. The University
of Georgia admissions staff would be able to refer students who
failed to qualify to one of these schools.
Any group with concerns for their community would be able to
establish a school to prepare their members for college. For
example, if the black community wants more students in the University
of Georgia, the NAACP, or Jessie Jackson's Rainbow Coalition,
or a black church or some combination can establish a charter
school to qualify recent high school graduates for entrance to
the university. This kind of affirmative action would ensure
quality black students rather than funneling students into the
university who are not ready for college level classes.
By making sure that every student they admit is ready for college,
the University of Georgia will produce more and better graduates.
Fewer students will face the indignity of flunking out because
they were not prepared for college. And Georgia will have more
and better leaders to take us into the new century.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison