The Madison County Journal
November 17, 1999
A closer look
at the Raiders
All you can ever ask of anyone is to do
the best with what they've got. And for the Red Raiders this
past season, that is a statement that I certainly believe rings
Now the '99 Raiders 2-8 campaign will not raise the eyebrows
of anyone who follows high school football. But if you look closely
at Madison County's season, the record is a statistic that doesn't
always tell the whole story.
The Red Raiders faced teams night in and night out with sizeable
numbers on the sideline, large linemen and speedsters at the
skill positions. During the season, the Raiders knocked heads
with the number one squad in class A and the number one and number
eight teams in AAA. With just over 30 players on the squad, it's
not an easy task to ask a group of young men to go out there
and win the majority of their games, especially in AAA ball.
But from the sideline, I saw an inspired group of well-coached
young men with a will to win that was just as strong as those
whose squads who had undefeated records and playoff bids waiting
in the balance at season's end.
This year's team, just as last year's, was a gusty group that
earned every yard they gained through their blood and sweat.
I couldn't help but become caught up in the inspired atomosphere
as the team battled through four quarters of football with some
players playing nearly every down of the game on both sides of
Back in my days in at MCHS the football team was always around
the .500 mark, but I wasn't nearly into the games as I have become
since I have been out of school and have one of the best seats
in the house to watch the games.
I felt for the team when they out- played the other guy, just
to watch them walk away with a win that they might not have had
any business winning.
The Commerce and Habersham Central contests particularly stick
out in my mind as they had chances to claim long-needed wins
only to be one or two plays away from pulling off the upset.
Like I've said before, I'm sure the players are sick of the "close
but no cigar" cliche. Nobody goes out and practices for
hours in the heat to know that they played a good game and claimed
a "moral victory."
But I like what I see for the future. The team, though they will
have some big holes to fill on the offensive line, have a good
nucleus of tailbacks returning which bodes well for the squad
as the running game is the team's bread and butter.
Also thrown in the mix is this week's announcement that the program
will be competing in a non-region schedule, which will match
the team up with other teams who have similar numbers. And we
all saw what happened this year when the Raiders took on Jackson
and North Hall - opponents with similar numbers. Madison County
ripped the two squads by a combined 58-19.
So with these factors taken into account and if the squad can
boost the numbers on the sidelines, there can be a solid foundation
for the football program to build on. It can surely happen. Look
no further than Oconee County. Just a few years ago the Warriors
were a laughingstock; now they're one of the most powerful teams
in the state.
It won't happen overnight, but I believe there is the potential
in this county for the Red Raiders to field a winning football
And hopefully all those moral victories can become a thing of
Ben Munro is a reporter for The Madison
The Madison County Journal
November 17, 1999
test isn't fair
Another uproar over education has developed, this time in Gwinnett
County. The board of education has decided to use a Gateway exam
as the sole determining factor in promotions. Parents are objecting,
saying that classroom grades and teacher input should be included
in promotion decisions.
Other parents object to basing a child's entire school year on
a single test. One parent wrote in an Access Atlanta forum that
if a child has one bad day, it could cost him or her a year of
The goal of such tests are to put an end to social promotions.
Far too often, children are promoted, even graduated, without
the ability to perform or understand the classwork. But I agree
that using the results of a single test is unfair to the students.
When I was in the Army, we were taught to do complex jobs using
a system called Performance Oriented Training (POT). This was
before that word had developed its present reputation. Each subject
was broken down into its smallest components. Students had to
learn each component in sequence. There were no grades. There
were no tests. Only when the student could demonstrate the ability
to perform each step was he allowed to study the next. I like
Using a similar system, each student would be presented with
a list of requirements to advance to the next grade. When the
student was able to demonstrate the ability to perform each task
on the list, he would be promoted. The student would not have
to attempt to prove his ability to read, write, do math, science
and art on a single test, and would have as many opportunities
as necessary to show his proficiency in each subject.
This way, parents, teachers, administrators and the student would
have a clear picture of the student's actual grade level, and
what he needs to do to advance.
I suspect that part of the objections to the use of Gateway testing
is that they reveal more than the student's ability. They also
test the ability of the teachers and parents. I have to wonder
if some of the angry protests by parents are due to their fear
that they will be seen to be lacking in preparing their children
for school and providing the encouragement and support they need
to do well.
As I have often said in this column, it is not the responsibility
of teachers to educate a child. They are only the means to that
end. The responsibility for a child's education rests on the
shoulders of the parents. When a child fails, it is a failure
for his entire family.
Some of these parents are likely concerned that they may have
to give up their golf dates, travel plans, even some of their
work hours in order to properly supervise their child's school
Every school child needs to be tested regularly to assure that
he is learning the lessons being taught. That testing should
be done in such a way that parents, teachers and students benefit
from a positive outcome.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison