Job creation is an important measurement of how well a community is doing. If a community is creating new jobs, it’s a sign of an overall healthy pattern.
Some recent data from Georgia State University indicates that while Barrow County did create 36 percent more jobs between 2000 and 2009, most of those were created before 2005. After 2005, the county lost a small percent of local jobs.
Interestingly, the data indicates that Barrow mostly got rid of low paying jobs during that time and had a slight increase in mid to higher paying jobs. Not surprisingly, many of the jobs lost between 2000 and 2009 were in manufacturing.
What the data doesn’t show is the relative change in the number of people commuting outside the county for employment during that time. The biggest danger Barrow faces for the long term is becoming a bedroom community with too few local jobs available.
A lot of people are working to bring new jobs to Barrow County, but those efforts have been hampered by a lack of strong local political leadership and by questions about the quality of the local school system. Hopefully, 2013 will bring some clarity to both of those spheres.
Could it be that cutting out 20 days of school this year will have no impact on the quality of learning in the Barrow County School System? That seems to be the suggestion from superintendent Wanda Creel at a recent board of education meeting at which the length of the upcoming school year was discussed.
Creel said that nearby Walton County saw little change in its student performance when it cut to 160 days from 180 days. It’s too early to tell how Barrow students will do this year, but the superintendent suggested that the shorter year had led to a more focused instruction in the classroom.
Barrow cut its school year due to severe financial problems. Other school systems have also cut days to save money.
But if those cuts in classroom time prove to not have a detrimental impact on student performance, it will upend one of the traditional tenants of public education in the state. In the past, most school officials have claimed that more instruction time is important to getting students better prepared.
If that’s not the case, then it begs a number of questions about the fundamental beliefs that underpin public schools. Maybe it is not the quantity of instruction that’s really important, but rather the quality. If that’s true, then the quality of teachers plays a much larger role in education than previously thought.
In the past few years, many in public education have claimed that it is the quality of parents that matters most in education. That could still be true, but it’s also the quality of teachers and curriculum that matters in the classrooms. Keeping good teachers and getting rid of bad teachers could prove to be the most important single aspect of education.
So maybe instead of worrying so much about the calendar, system leaders should focus more on making sure they are hiring the best teachers possible.
It will be interesting to see how this all plays out at the end of the school year.
The City of Winder has long enjoyed a financial windfall from its water service being provided to those outside of the city limits. The city charges around 36 percent more to customers outside the town and then takes those profits to help subsidize government services inside the city.
That’s not really fair to the water customers outside the town — they are paying to subsidize services they don’t enjoy.
But for those living inside Winder, that arrangement has been a boon because it keeps the city’s tax rate low. Rather than taxing the citizens who actually use city services, the city passes much of that cost along to its outside water customers.
All of that could change if a bill in the Georgia General Assembly becomes law. HB41 would put a stop to that kind of deal if it passes in the legislature.
Like a lot of legislation, that bill is either good or bad depending on whose ox is getting gored.
Mike Buffington is co-publisher of the Barrow Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com.