Letters to the Editor

This is Viewpoints for Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016

Vote ‘No’ on Amendment 1

I remember well my first days at Lane Elementary School. My first grade teacher, Ms. Campbell, quickly realized that the best way to keep me out of trouble was to give me a book to read. Like so many teachers, she made a difference in my attitude toward school and my ultimate success there. Nothing is more important to student achievement than having good teachers like Ms. Campbell in our classrooms — teachers proponents of Amendment 1 have dismissively called “weak.” Every day, teachers right here in this community go above and beyond to give the children in their classrooms the best possible chance to learn. They are anything but weak — they are our best asset in the fight to help students achieve.

That’s why I have been such a strong opponent of Amendment 1, Gov. Deal’s plan to appoint a state-level bureaucrat to take over our most vulnerable schools, silencing teachers, parents and local community members. The governor and his allies would have you believe that they have a magic solution for our local schools. They don’t.

The hard truth is the enabling legislation for Amendment 1 does not mandate any educational innovation. It provides not one pencil, not one book, not a single new resource for our most vulnerable students — just an expensive, new, state-level bureaucracy. All this amendment does is change who runs the school from people you know and see in the grocery store or at church to a bureaucrat the governor appoints who serves at his pleasure. Out-of-state, for-profit corporations can be brought it to run the schools the governor's political appointee decides to take over, and this will mean even less money for teachers and the education of students in those schools.

Fostering student achievement is hard work, work done every day in our classrooms by good teachers supported by parents who care about their children’s future. There is simply no substitute for that. We have our challenges as a community, but we know the opportunity for students to succeed isn’t determined by economic status or race, but instead by our commitment as a community to supporting our local schools and to standing in the gap for those students who face the greatest challenges.

That’s why the Bibb County Board of Education unanimously supported a resolution opposing Amendment 1, reflecting the real progress our system is making in improving student performance under the guidance of Superintendent Curtis Jones. In contrast, the school takeover plan Amendment 1 implements has been tried — and it failed — in other states.

While Amendment 1 sounds appealing based on the rosy and misleading ballot language, if you read the fine print, you will see that this plan does nothing to improve student achievement and will block the local input that really works in making our schools better. I urge you to vote “no” on Amendment 1.

Daryl J. Morton, Macon

One simple question

I won’t vote for Amendment 1 until someone answers one simple question. Amendment 1 lets the state take control of failing schools and their respective resources from local school boards. The governor and other politicos have urged us to vote in support of it. Just Friday, Erick Erickson had an opinion piece in The Telegraph supporting Amendment 1. I spent 10-plus years as a classroom teacher in Dougherty County public schools and have seen firsthand what troubled schools are like and the issues they face. That said I have one — yep only one — question for Gov. Deal, Erickson and all the other Amendment 1 supporters. If they can answer it, they have my support and my vote. What are you going to do differently in and out of the classroom that will miraculously transform these students and these schools? That’s it, tell me how you are going to fix the problems.

If you have a silver bullet, tell us so we can start fixing the problems now. I am sure Curtis Jones in Bibb County and all the other Georgia superintendents would love to know what the supporters of this bill seem to know. You can’t answer the question because there isn’t a simple answer. There are a lot of factors that cause schools to fail, and taking control of them at the state level will fix none of them. Until you (Gov. Deal, Erickson, anyone) can answer the question, I am voting no.

Thomas Stewart, Macon

No winners

Sad news arrived last week: Twitter offspring Vine is no more. The video service featuring stupid people doing stupid things for all of six seconds is going off the web. Sigh. Twitter also announced that the company was laying off 9 percent of its workforce in the aftermath of the aborted Disney buyout. It seems Disney investors and board of directors were sorely afraid of Twitter’s incapability of controlling the violent and hate-filled content that has bubbled up in this political climate.

Taken over by politicians, bullies and trolls or in other words a tri-fecta for “The Donald,” Twitter has probably entered a death spiral. A shame really, because, those with no real life could instantly comment on a myriad of current events, TV show content or just tell the world, “I just tied my shoes.” That is, as long as it did not exceed 140 characters. Which, oddly, (or not) is the average attention span of many of those who show up at a Trump rally.

There seems to be a real connection between Trump and so many of these folks who think Maury Povich is educational programming, that Judge Judy should be on the Supreme Court and wrestling is real. They can’t seem to separate real information — from entertainment and leadership; from showmanship or dreams and wishes — from plans. They want someone to blame and Trump, the pseudo-ringmaster, is adept at pointing to the next target under his big top.

Yes, we in this country have serious challenges now and ahead, but hate-fueled rhetoric, bullying and vitriol are not the pavement of a road to broad reconciliation and progress. Neither of the candidates is in my opinion the right choice, and we have ourselves to blame. We were so busy being entertained we let the clown take over the circus, and there is no real opposition for Clinton. And, in his losing diatribe, Trump threatens retaliation, disavows the process that has served us for over two centuries and urges his supporters to violent reform. There are no winners in this election — least of all — the American people.

Bob Carnot,

Warner Robins