CCSD schools start the second week of August, typically the hottest month of the year. They end in the third week of May. How much could be saved in air conditioning costs just by moving the school calendar a month back, so it started in early September and ended in early June? This has nothing to do with equipment updates, changing light bulbs, etc.
The current school calendar is responsive to testing schedules set by the state board of education, but one would think the state board should be capable of and interested in responding to the savings issue as well.posted @ Sunday, February 10, 2013 - 00:28
I understand valuing competition as a means of driving innovation. However, the creation of the Governor's Charter School Board does not create competition in the sense in which economists, athletes or horses use the term. Competition requires similar opportunities, and a more or less equal playing field to start. Here, they are not even playing on the same field or by similar rules. This particular Charter amendment simply grants power to the Governor's office to appoint persons of his choosing to a Board to create charter schools in areas where the locally elected school board has voted not to do so.
If you're looking for competition, look to democracy. Elections are competitive. School Board members have to win elections to serve, and these most local of elected representatives have to vote the way their constituents want them to, at least on major issues like creating a new school in their district (charter, magnet or otherwise), to stay in office. If you're looking for competition, that's where you find it.
There are pros and cons to the Governor's Charter School Board amendment, but creating competition is not one of them.posted @ Sunday, November 4, 2012 - 10:05
When schools do poorly we blame the teachers and when they do well we credit the principal? The improvements are due to the work of teachers, parapros in the lower grades, the availability of pre-K, and the assistance of parents at home, in addition to the principal. Credit, if it is due at all, must be spread around.
The fact that poor children (school lunch eligible) show Improvement on test scores in a testing regime are a direct result of the federal mandate to focus on those groups under No Child Left Behind. Though perhaps we should not forget that Georgia, under Roy Barnes, had already created this kind of mandate.
No thanks, however, goes to the yellow-bellied Georgia legislature for its repeated cuts to public education.posted @ Saturday, September 8, 2012 - 10:17
Don't get anything you use caught between the anvil and the hammer, smithie.posted @ Saturday, September 1, 2012 - 15:05
Dear Emperor: What do you say to the children in public school who do have a good attitude, who are doing well, getting good grades, and are hoping to go to college (and probably will)? Their parents cannot and do not send them to private schools, but instead they take them to the public library, they help with homework, they encourage their academic performance. There are a lot of these kids, and these parents. How do you explain them?posted @ Saturday, September 1, 2012 - 09:46
The pool is a great resource. Kids, parents, students swim, splash, throw balls, tan, relax, meet, talk, network, all with the ease of summer heat. As a structure it is classic - not imposing, it simply does what is needed without imposing the architect's ego. But one of the most irreplaceable features is the location. When Legion Pool was designed there were few buildings nearby and the University had the choice of many sites. Looking across the land, the builders of that generation had choice that we rarely have today, and they chose that site. The pool is cradled between hills and trees. It's not sheltered by the hills - it's an outdoor pool - but it is framed by the hills. They complement one another. The field and stage are part of the whole as well, though the pool has been fenced off for decades, which is a loss in itself.
Together the whole is irreplaceable. Money can't buy it.
But the answer to why eliminate lies in the location. It's land for another building. They don't want to put in a memorial garden; they want to build several stories of brick and steel. Therein lies the answer and the problem. It's greed for the land. The natives have not been putting the forest to good enough use and the settlers have their eye on it.
Has the UGA announced what it intends to build once it buries the history of children's laughter?posted @ Saturday, September 1, 2012 - 09:36
That is one of the complications, but only one. Prison time does not "pay" for the crime. But since people like to talk as though people "pay" for their crime, it's worth asking how do you calculate the right amount of "payment?" 10 days, 100 days, 1000 days, 10,000 days? 1 year, 10 years, 20? If this were truly "payment" then there would be a way to calculate the harm done and calibrate the payment necessary. But it's not. And people have really different ideas about how much punishment is enough. Even the hard hearted disagree on this. Some would punish more for burglary than for robbery, some won't. Some give the first offender a second chance and lengthy probation, some won't. The lengths of prison sentences were ratcheted up starting in the mid 1980's, but just because legislators felt like it. They simply chose different numbers, and the sentences rose. Where is the sense in this?
So, if the punishment can't be calibrated based on any formula (at least not under Georgia law), what about punishment for the sake of teaching a lesson? Now the question is how much time should someone sit in prison to learn never to commit another crime? 1 year, 2 years, 5? 10? 25? The going wisdom is that people just come out worse then they go in. They've been to crime school sitting around in prison with none other than a bunch of criminals. These new found skills, or at least the new perspective, combines with the difficulty of finding work once you're a convicted felon (all the moreso in an economy with a high unenployment rate even for well qualified people with no crimnal record). Surprise, the ex-con commits a new felony. Does that mean prison didn't work? We have to say yes, at least not if the purpose was to teach a lesson.
That leaves deterrence of other persons as the only reasonable rationale for lengthy - or maybe even for short - prison sentences. Do the rest of us really need that kind of disincentive? And if so, how much? If you stay on the straight and narrow because you don't want to go to prison, it probably doesn't matter whether the prison sentence is 2 or 20. The threat of prison at all is enough to keep most of us inline (that is, if we need additional incentive to simply do the right thing to our neighbors, strangers, and friendly corporate entities).
So what's the point? The point is that the system really makes no clear sense. Preventing the NEXT crime is certainly a good idea, but paying a billion dollars for Georgia's "Corrections" system hurts! It's very hard to say where best to spend current tax dollars. Some say we should cut the corrections budget and increase the education budget -- that this is the best way to invest in the future. That's certainly as reasonable as our current program.posted @ Saturday, August 11, 2012 - 23:50
My kids have had homework nearly every day since 1st grade in the Clarke County Schools, but maybe that's not what you mean. There is definitely room for improvement in the CCSD, in every school in the system, but the main difficulty for the CCSD is the lack of an educational foundation in the homes of most (meaning a majority) of the children. Poverty matters, meaning, it impacts performance. It's not an excuse, and certainly some families rise above it, but we cannot deny that on average, it makes a big difference. Who among us wants our children to be born into poverty? So blaming the school system is just too easy. And this stuff is not easy. Certainly it won't be solved just by hiring a private corporation.
I do agree that local school boards can treat parents like peasants, including in Clarke County. But parents can and do run for the Board, get elected and try their best to change the system, as difficult as that may be. More realistically they can form groups, develop a relationship with their elected board members and influence their decision-making.
By contrast, the Charter School Commission will be remote and inaccessible for several reasons. It will not have even the pretense of responsiveness to the peasantry. You are correct that on paper it seems to serve a good purpose, what agency or commission doesn't? But there is no reason it is likely to succeed, or even operate with much loyalty to the cause of children. It is not designed to be responsive. It is designed to bid government contracts to private businesses. Parents and local communities will not have a voice in the decision-making on the contracts nor on the school curriculum.
If they are able to build a great school, more power to them. Where would you put it in Athens and which children get to attend? The really good students in the CCSD compete on equal terms with the good students from Athens Academy, from Oconee County, from Jefferson City and from North Fulton and East Cobb. So who will the first private Charter school in Athens (not counting Ombudsman) be for? In the alternative, why won't the State give the money to fund that Charter school in Athens to the CCSD and let it improve or at least maintain its current program rather than continuing to cut yearly budget allocations (several years running now).posted @ Friday, August 10, 2012 - 14:29
Actually, what the charter school amendment would do is create a "monopoly government agency," as you call it. Therein lies the problem. This is not a question of locally elected school boards relying on a private company to provide certain educational services. It is a method of creating an appointed state commission with the power to create schools and dole out the contracts to their friends. The commissioners will not be elected as are members of the Public Service Commission, for instance (and it's bad enough). They will be appointed and therefore not answerable to the free market or to the voters.
I don't know that this is a liberal or a conservative problem - it seems to me that it doesn't fit very well with anyone's theory of government. I take it you would agree that a monopoly is a monopoly no matter who is running it? And the problem with a monopoly is as the only player in the market it is not answerable to the market - therefore the consumer gets screwed. It is the "not answerable to" any reasonable oversight that is the problem here. Tax money will be used to fund these contracts, but the use of that money will not be subject to oversight by the voters. Local school boards definitely have their faults, but at least there is the pretense of electoral accountability. The Charter school commission does not even have that.posted @ Friday, August 10, 2012 - 12:14
Democracy is the public political equivalent of the private free market. If you don't like government in a democracy, including a representative democracy, then neither should you have confidence in the private market. Many businesses have red tape, have inefficient systems, have employees (the boss's relatives and friends, for instance) who don't do a very good job, and yet these businesses keep operating.
Taxing people who make a decent living is the way people in a democracy fund government activities that their elected representatives have approved. If we don't like the policies, we vote for someone else. In the same way that if we don't like the product, we don't buy it. In theory both systems are responsive to the "market", that is, to the consumers or the voters. Reality never matches the theory - neither private enterprise nor government is as responsive as it could be. Do you have a better theory for government? America is defined by its political system - that is, by its system of government. Should we not give ourselves a little more credit? The anti-government crowd sounds like it has given up on America. I want to think they haven't, but it sure sounds that way.
The bottom line is that the public schools do a fairly good job, but only if they have the funds to operate. Teachers work incredibly hard and are constantly trying to innovate and respond to the new students that come their way each year. The only way to fund schools at the state level is to raise income taxes. This will not get politicians elected, or re-elected, but until we have the spine to face this reality the public schools will continue to struggle and Georgia will remain at the bottom of the well when it comes to education. The free market is not going to help my kids, nor the children of most people in Georgia, go to school. Private school is not a realistic choice. Charter schools operated by a local school system share the same pot of money with the other local schools. Charter schools operated by an appointed state commission answerable to virtually no one take money from the state pot of money that otherwise is distributed across the state to the regular public schools. They are neither answerable to the market nor the voting public nor the actual consumer. This is the worst of all worlds -- public-private cronyism.posted @ Friday, August 10, 2012 - 12:00
@matt1141a: Immigration court is not criminal court and there is no constitutional right to counsel for indigents in non-criminal cases. So people accused of being in the country illegally do not get a free lawyer. If they can hire a lawyer they can have one.
They get only a hearing, not a trial. There is definitely not a jury, instead the outcome is determined by an appointed adminstrative judge or an immigration officer, not the individual most people would hope for if they could choose a neutral objective person to hear their case. Absent a lawyer's assistance with relatively complicated immigration law and procedure, you have to wonder whether the "trial" is fair.
The medical care is not "full," try it sometime and see if this is your choice of health care plans, though this is true of regular jails and prisons too; and family visits are often not permitted at all, but much more difficult to pull off than simply heading over to Aunt Bea's for a visit. Often people are incarcerated far from their family (it's not like the county jail) and visiting, even when permitted, requires a lot of time and expense.
You might well still approve of this kind of imprisonment because you approve of the outcome (deportation), but liking the outcome and liking how we get there are two different things. And the immigration law enforcement has little resemblance to what we consider our American system of justice.posted @ Friday, August 3, 2012 - 11:19
The original school supply tax moratorium was passed under Governor Barnes and a Southern Democrat majority in both houses. It was eliminated - that is, the tax was re-imposed - under Governor Purdue, by a solidly Republican majority. Last year the Republican majority and Governor Deal replaced half of the tax holiday, with poor timing which hopefully they will correct this next year. You can't always judge a book by its cover . . .posted @ Monday, July 30, 2012 - 11:32
@RightWingExtremist: You're right, I shouldn't have said "full of radically conservative activists." Some of them, such as Sotomayor and Ginsburg, are only moderately conservative. But what's biased about calling a spade a spade? It's no secret that the Court is largely conservative, some less, some more. There's nothing suprising about Courts being conservative - the status quo has served the individuals on the Court well -- it's not surprising that they seek to maintain it.posted @ Sunday, May 13, 2012 - 20:52
Unfortunately, you're reading the language of the 16th Amendment backwards. The reason this Amendment was ratified was to allow income tax at different levels. "Without regard to census or enumeration" means that the number of people in a given state does not make any difference, the taxes need not be apportioned equally amongst the states. Though the language of the original taxing power would seem to have allowed for income tax, the U.S. Supreme Court - full of radically conservative activists then as now - decided that the income tax was unconstitutional because it resulted in inequality amongst the states - not in the RATE of taxation, but in the actual amount. So the 16th Amendment was drafted and ratified by the States. As it stands, your equality argument has never carried the day. The response is that the tax applies equally to every person, based on income. That is, every person whose income is $200,000 is taxed at the same rate as every other person making $200,000. If the next year the person makes only $35,000, then that year he is taxed at the same rate as every other person making $35,000. And so on. Tax deductions, credits and so forth are also applied equally, in that every person who is eligibile for a particular deduction is entitled to claim it. The law doesn't favor or dis-favor any person by trade, language, race, gender, ancestry, fame or popularity. Ths is the same for all laws - they apply equally to each person. The laws governing stock options apply equally to all persons -- IF they have stock options.
Based on your logic, all laws are unequal. Why should only 8 year olds have to go to second grade? Why should only persons over 21 be allowed to drink? Why should children inherit from their parents? Every law creates inequality; some inequalities are unconstitutional. Most aren't.posted @ Sunday, May 13, 2012 - 13:06
What is the source of the right? The United States Constitution:
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
Plus the 16th Amendment, which specifically authorizes federal income tax:
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several states, and without regard to any census or enumeration.
The Articles of Confederation were weak. The founders returned to the drawing board and created the US Constitution, intentionally creating a stronger federal government, with the power to tax, and the power to "provide for the common defence and the general welfare."
So the source of the right is the constitution, and the source of the constitution is the people - including the founding fathers. Love it or leave it.
If income is not "hard-earned," are you okay taxing it? Michael Adams $2 million severance pay, for instance? Is the increased value in your mutual funds "hard-earned income?" If we set aside the hard-earned income as non-taxable, that would still leave a lot of income on the table. Sound good to you?posted @ Sunday, May 13, 2012 - 00:50
It's certainly not "progressive" policies that have run down the economy. The rich were supposed to pull us all up, but clearly the rich have failed in their mission. The Bush tax cuts have been in place for a decade and they were justified on the theory that the rich were the "job producers" and with more money they would make more jobs. But it hasn't happened - unless that meant more jobs in China. So the rich have proven they just can't handle it. Likewise with conservative economic theory - time to be intellectually honest and admit their trickle down the -rich-will-provide for us all theory needs to give way to reality and face facts. They've refused to accept responsibility for their own failures and continue to blame government. Time to quit whining about the government and admit your own failure. Give someone else a chance. Raise taxes and fund teachers and public education, pre-K through college. Build infrastructure.posted @ Friday, May 11, 2012 - 23:01
No. One can disagree, but it's rational to let the wage earner whose income is only enough to cover the necessities for herself and her family, or his family, to keep her or his wages. That way those persons are more likely to stay in the workforce and their children are more likely to be productive members of society. THAT, is efficiency. If, however, for the sake of principle you wish to impose a token tax rate on the poor, say, 1%, for the sake of appearances and to satisfy a certain blood thirstiness that is thriving in the current political climate, so be it. But as a matter of economic efficiency it makes little sense to tax the poor. The rich like to use the economic efficiency argument to support low tax rates for themselves, but they are, quite simply, just greedy. Their argument is an exercise in imaginary thinking. They have effectively mass marketed their proganda, which is why they are currently travelling under the banner of "job creators," which of course sells much better than "greedy fatcats."posted @ Tuesday, May 8, 2012 - 14:05
To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, "the government is not the solution, it is the problem."
Reagan was a racist, a moral and an intellectual sissy and the public his dupe. Truly the Sheriff of Nottingham, a sycophant of his own image and stooge to his financial backers. A nice enough guy in his rocking chair, though. Of course, the country itself was established without an equal protection clause, with only men voting, only white men voting, and in many places only landholding white men voting. Women were no more citizens than was Dred Scott. How's that for Used to BE Free? That what you're hankering for?
Taxes only temporarily redirect the flow of money. They do not re-distribute it. The flow is just interupted - like the mill run shunts the water to one side to run the grindstone before the water returns to the river. Because you can't see it and touch it the way you can a river, this is too complicated for political imagery. Middle class salary-earners spend their money on manufactured goods, thereby increasing the wealth of the owners of industry - whom you call "the rich." The money goes back into their pockets and is multiplied.
"Re-distribution" is a deliberate lie, but great political imagery. It is used to convince you that the people's government is taking money and never returning it. In fact, the rich still get richer off of consumer spending, which is the only thing the poor, and nearly the only thing the middle class, can do with their money. So the money is just temporarily put into different service. By no stretch of the imagination has it been permanently re-distributed. The economy must be measured over time, based on the many ways that money flows through many hands. A snapshot of a dollar changing from only one hand to one other hand is money frozen in time. The real question is where did it come from and where is it going. That still photo of money is so inaccurate that it is a deliberate deception of reality - but a powerful image for Time or Fox, etc.
Of course, everyone benefits from improved roads, schools, law enforcement, health care and the safety of a strong military, so we benefit not only by employing people in those sectors and making consumers of them, but also by the actual goods and services provided by the work of the people's government.
The other deliberate falsification of the private enterprise mythology is that private enterprise is more efficient than government enterprise. Private enterprise thrives on the failure of the majority and the success of the few - what's efficient about that? Secondly, private enterprise attracts far more thugs than does civil service. What's so great about letting a bunch of thugs run things? Thirdly, an employee is an employee. Most people want to keep their jobs and above that, most people want to do a good job - their capabilities notwithstanding. Those two motivations in combination are just as viable in the private as the public sector. And private bosses are no better at generating efficiency out of employees than are public bosses. Private enterprise is full of uncles, cousins, and other family members, not to mention friends, who bloat the payroll and do little to help the bottom line. This is even more true for small businesses than large, just as a function of numbers (how many friends and family can you have), though corporate boards reflect the same dynamic as they are largely all members of the same network of associates, friends and even family.
Of course, this might all be a worthy approach where family values dictate your marching orders, but let's concede that family values in business and government runs smack up against "efficiency."
People have the right to keep their own hard won gains? That would be the King of England's complaint. The problem is, there was little "hard won" in his gains (that is, it wasn't the sweat of his own brow); and secondly, the US is run by the people, and we have intentionally established a government that is allowed to redirect the stream of money so as to rationally utilize the wealth of the nation so long as we do so by due process -which, with taxes, means a legitimate vote by the people's representatives.
and yeah, it's a pretty flawed system, but if you want a really quick and nimble government then you want a dictatorship -- better hope she's family (maybe).
So what's your real beef? Just don't like handouts?posted @ Tuesday, May 8, 2012 - 13:07
@Used2baFreeCountry: To believe that today's economy is the result of the work of politicians over just the past three years, and in addition place that blame on the executive branch and in particular the head of state rather than Congress and a host of other factors, reflects a 2nd grader's conception of both economics and politics. The eight years of the prior Congress' and Administration's policies are much more responsible for today's economy than the work of the current Congress and Administration. But blame away, it's your right to believe as you wish.
The most destructive blow undercutting the economy remains what are called the "Bush" tax cuts. The Government is a huge part of the economy. When you destroy its revenue, you destroy a huge sector of the economy. You destroy consumer demand for products produced by the private sector and the whole thing starts to wind down. The Republican mantra "starve the beast" has had its effect, it's just that the beast is the entire economy, not just the government. And the entire economy is made up of the incomes and spending by millions of Americans. Put them out of a job and you drive the economy down. Surprise surprise. And it's not over yet. Witness the recent cuts to the state budget in Georgia, causing teachers, parapros and other employees of public school systems across the state to lose their jobs.
Taxes are now lower than they were under Reagan, under Clinton, and even under Eisenhower. And the economy is still reeling. Figure it out. Cutting taxes for the rich below a certain point simply doesn't stimulate the economy, and taxes were already that low before the Bush tax cuts. Money in the hands of the lower and middle class worker gets invested in the economy anyway - through pension system investments, retirement accounts, checking accounts, etc. The money is always being held by some entity who is investing it. But if that money is first cycled through consumer spending, it serves double duty and continues to stimulate the economy on the production end, not just the investment end.
The failure to appreciate this, or the deliberate deception in selling tax cuts as "relief," is at the root of the government's role in the current economic morass. Go figure.posted @ Tuesday, May 8, 2012 - 09:25
There is a difference between being illegal and being wrong. People are entitled to their opinions, and in this country we are entitled to express them. The 1st Amendment doesn't say you have to respect the opinions of others, nor does the Declaration of Independence say you have to respect the fundamental equality of all persons. It just says "all men are created equal." You are free to disagree. Legislators can pass laws to the contrary, and for most of U.S. history, legislators have done exactly that - passed laws declaring the inequality of some persons. Some people have disagreed with these laws. Some have enforced them. Does respect for the fundamental equality of all people mean we should at least respect people who express opinions different than ours?
Prosecutors and police have the discretion to prosecute, or to not prosecute. There is much more benefit to public safety in prosecuting some persons and not others, and prosecuting some laws and not others. Obviously they do not and cannot enforce every law every time against every person. Since they have to choose, one can only hope they choose wisely.posted @ Monday, April 23, 2012 - 14:20
@Gavalues: Clarke has 12,557 students, Oconee has 6,546 students. Clarke lists 21 schools, Oconee lists 10.
How do you determine how much administrative support staff is the right number? The populations of Clarke and Oconee are different from each other and the educational needs of the school age children are different. How do you compare them? This is not to justify either county's expenditures - either one might be spending too much or too little. But just because one county spends more doesn't mean the other county should spend more, and just because one county spends less doesn't mean the other county should spend less. Either way is a "keeping up with the Jones's" mentality, motivated by virtually none of the right things.
Teachers - and for that matter parents - know that it takes different approaches for different children. And sometimes different approaches take more time, more staff, more resources, or less.
The salary figures and number of support staff (i.e. administrative staff) are important, but a whole lof of other information is equally important. You can tell something about a horse's age by looking at its teeth, but you can tell little else - and certainly not whether it has any horse sense.posted @ Sunday, April 22, 2012 - 22:40
@BullJacket: To hold a righteous belief in harsh punishment is one thing, but to rejoice and revel in the pain of others is sadistic. To gloat and boast about one's sadism? Not sure what is the word for it. We could rank our faults, in the end we all need forgiveness.posted @ Wednesday, April 11, 2012 - 11:55
31,000 of 254,000 alumni gave back to the University of Georgia. That is fewer than 9 alumni out of every 100. Not sure what to make of this figure; it seems awfully low. But at the least, it means that If the General Assembly thinks that private donations are going to make up for its continued cutting of the state's budget for the University, it better think again. Higher education helps float the economic boat of the entire state, and it's entirely appropriate to raise taxes in order to properly fund it.posted @ Monday, March 5, 2012 - 09:25
Does this mean Mauldin will have the guts to take the Edward Wright case to a grand jury? Unarmed, naked man approached by police in response to man's mother calling and telling police her son, mentally ill, needed help. Their assistance resulted in the naked man being shot to death by the police. H. Gordon refused to take it to the grand jury at all - apparently afraid of what neutral citizens might do with the case. It's not an unsolved homicide, it's an unprosecuted one -- a different kind of cold. Care to step up to the plate, Ken? At least have the case aired before a grand jury and let them say yea or nay to further prosecution? There is no statute of limitations on murder.posted @ Sunday, March 4, 2012 - 21:57
I appreciate the fact that you are extracting joy from someone else's pain. But you might at least gloat accurately. He is not on probation now. It was a two year term and he completed it successfully. Check the Clerk's office for the record if you doubt it. As a matter of Georgia law, he does not have a conviction on his record. The article does not say that he voted, ever. You are interpreting a prosecuting attorney's questions as answers. There is a difference between the questions an attorney asks and the answers they get, and getting no answer tells us nothing. He had every right not to answer. If you're going to gloat over someone else's mistake, at least get your gloating right.posted @ Wednesday, February 1, 2012 - 12:59
Want your business here? Contact Leslie Turner for more information.
Rep. Regina Quick, R-Athens, was one of two local delegates to score less than an "A+" in the Chamber of Commerce's annual legislative score card. She and I played phone tag Monday when I was reporting the story and I wasn't able to get her comments in a timely fashion. Instead, she sent over this statement Wednesday morning and she did not mince her words. (Links and italicized portions are my own; otherwise, it's as she wrote it.) Dear Friends: read more
The committee opted Tuesday night to put off deciding on the ordinance until, at the earliest, its next meeting. Of note: The Athens-Clarke County attorney highlighted that the proposed times are, in essence, placeholders for the commission to change or keep as it pleases. Full text of the Use of Public Right-of-Ways ordinance draft is below. read more