Three things to actually improve education —John S. Quarterman

People ask me why I oppose CUEE. It’s because I’d rather actually improve education instead.

It seems to me the burden of proof is on the people proposing to make massive changes in the local education system. And CUEE has not provided any evidence for their position. Sam Allen of Friends of Valdosta City Schools (FVCS) pithily sums up CUEE:

“It’s not about the children. It’s about somebody’s ego.”
I don’t think the children should have to suffer for somebody’s ego.

CUEE’s unification push isn’t about education. It’s about a “unified platform” to attract industry. That alone is enough reason to oppose “unification”. It’s not about education!

As former Industrial Authority Chair Jerome Tucker has been heard to remark on numerous occassions, “nobody ever asked me how many school systems we had!” The only example in Georgia CUEE points to for this is the Kia plant that came to Troup County, Georgia. It’s funny how none of the locals seem to have mentioned any such connection in the numerous articles published about the Kia plant. Instead, the mayor of the town with the Kia plant complains that his town doesn’t have a high school. That’s right: he’s complaining that the school system is too consolidated! The only actual education between Kia and education in Troup County is with West Georgia Tech, the local technical college.

CUEE has finally cobbled together an education committee, but it won’t even report back before the proposed ballot referendum vote. CUEE has no plan to improve education.

If CUEE actually did want to help the disadvantaged in the Valdosta City schools, as George Rhynes said:

Where was CUEE and the people working to bring the two school systems together when local citizens were fighting for change, and seeking answers to the Hiring of Black Educators and the Federal Court Order being complied with that was filed decades ago? Where were they then?
Local NAACP president Leigh Touchton lists a number of other related points.

Where is CUEE on dismantling the School to Prison Pipeline? Where is CUEE on the state of Georgia spending $18,000 a year to lock up inmates and only $3,800 a year to educate a child? Everybody complains that parents don’t do enough to help their children in school. But one of the main reasons they don’t is because they’re locked up: 1 in 13 adults in Georgia are in jail, prison, probation, or parole. Disproportionately the people locked up are black, in the new Jim Crow:

“In some black inner-city communities, four of five black youth can expect to be caught up in the criminal justice system during their lifetimes.”
You may argue that that’s a state or national problem and hard to fix. That’s not excuse not to try. And why isn’t CUEE opposing the Industrial Authority’s plan to site a private prison in Lowndes County, wasting tax dollars that could be spent on education?

What’s the other big reason parents aren’t involved in education? Because they’re working too hard trying to make ends meet. How about we get some real industry here so parents don’t have to work two jobs to pay the bills, and their children don’t have to move somewhere else to get a job? Every resource the Chamber of Commerce spends promoting CUEE is a resource it could be using for its Renewable and Sustainable Energy Network. Resources that could be promoting jobs in the fastest growing industry in the world, solar power, in distribution, installation, architecting, and college research.

CUEE’s own research and their own hired expert says unification wouldn’t improve education.

What it would do would be to promote bright flight to Lanier County and elsewhere. What it would do would be to waste a lot of time and effort that could be used to do other things to actually improve education.

CUEE’s model is the Chattanooga school system. The only thing I’ve heard the Chattanooga school system did to improve education was to invest in early childhood education. Recent research shows that:

Those who had participated in an early childhood program beginning at age 3 showed higher levels of educational attainment, socioeconomic status, job skills, and health insurance coverage as well as lower rates of substance abuse, felony arrest, and incarceration than those who received the usual early childhood services.
We already know that. We don’t need to waste huge amounts of time and effort on a petition or a ballot referendum or tinkering with the number of school employees to find that out.

Let’s get on with something real to improve education:

  1. Let’s invest in early childhood education,
  2. let’s stop locking so many people up,
  3. and let’s promote real industry such as solar for jobs for parents.
Come on, self-styled leaders of the community, and the Chamber, and the Industrial Authority, and on the school boards: where are you on these three points?


3 thoughts on “Three things to actually improve education —John S. Quarterman

  1. Alex Jones

    I have actually attended several of the public meetings and listened to the discussions from the Education Planning Committee. I’m not sure if you realize this or not, but the committee consists of parents, concerned residents and educators from both school systems and VSU. The committee also has members who are supportive and opposed to school unification, and it includes both city and county residents. In fact, Sam Allen even attended and participated in the last meeting.
    The objective of the Education Planning Committee is to develop a school reform plan that is independent of the school unification issue. The Committee has said from day one that the final recommendations on school reform will be presented to both School Boards and to the public in late August or early September, which is well before the November 8th election.
    Rather than sit on the sidelines and criticize CUEE, I encourage you, the NAACP and others to attend these meetings and participate in these discussions about what we – as a community – can do to improve our public schools and ensure all children receive a quality education. If you take a quick look at the testing data locally and for the state, you will realize what we have today is not working for a large number of our children.
    Our community needs to have a “public dialog” about how we can improve our public schools, and I believe the Education Planning Committee is well on its way to offer some important recommendations or this discussion. I only hope both School Boards will support and implement these recommendations regardless their views of CUEE or the final vote on school unification.

  2. walter mattson

    I’ll agree that childhood education and to eliminate prison time for possession of drugs are worthwhile things to do. However, we have got to be smoking something to assume that renewable energy jobs are going to be higher paying than most other ventures. The jobs associated with solar and many green jobs will go to off shore facilities because the government refuses to get to the root cause of employment in this country. The government must begin making the US industries more competitive with foreign countries. To do this it must dump or revise all regulations that act as major blocks to companies. This does not mean that environmental issues should be ignored but they must meet a cost benefit analysis with meaningful environmental concerns. The government needs to open up the exploration and implementation of fossil fuel and nuclear energy. The government must throw out the existing tax code and replace it with a flat or fair tax that eliminates most deductions for industry, business and individuals. Companies should not pay a federal tax since the existing tax is passed on to the customer. Sixty years ago, most companies did not care as much about paying a tax since the US was the major producer of most products and they could pass the tax to the consumer. Today, they still pass the tax onto the consumer but suffer a loss to foreign competition.

  3. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

    Two out of three ain’t bad, but your assertions on the third point don’t add up.
    If we look at the numbers, they show that solar and wind employ twice as many people as coal and three times as many as nuclear:
    U.S. corporate taxes are lower than almost all other developed countries:
    U.S. income and payroll taxes are lower per capita now than they’ve been since the 1950s:
    Meanwhile, fossil fuels get twelve times more subsidies than renewable energy:
    U.S. DoE says solar can be cheaper than coal in six years:
    GE says five years:
    If solar was subsidised like coal and oil, it would already be cheaper. As for nuclear, Georgia Power has already hiked rates for its twin nuke boondoggles.
    U.S. has plenty of solar energy everywhere:
    Even Alaska has as much sun as Germany, the world leader in solar.
    Pesky things, facts. They show green jobs are what we need for employment and energy independence.

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