How did we get here? —JC Cunningham

Received Friday. -jsq
Things really have not changed have they? There are still people out there who believe they can force their will on the people regardless of the circumstances. I still cannot believe that we are here. Consolidation, Unification, where did this come from? What mind first came up with this idea and what is the real motive behind it?

Eight months ago when I heard that Rusty Griffin and his merry band of followers were once again trying to force unification down peoples throats, I never thought it would catch on and would just fizzle away. Oh, how wrong.

Over the months this consolidation issue that I thought would never gain steam is now on the ballot and could possible pass this Nov. 8th.

I have seen this thing divide friends, families, co-workers and even

churches. Why? Why would anyone wish something so divisive on our community? What is so important that we could not have had some open dialog within our normally tight knit community first?

How did we get here? The words Greed, Power, Control, Spoiled, and Selfish come to my mind.

Last night CUEE held a public forum and paraded several speakers who tried to explain why School Consolidation/Unification was vital to education and economic growth. The educational component they claim is the reason for this referendum was nothing more than a smoke screen trying to cover up their real motive.

If I had not known any better I would have thought that Valdosta/Lowndes was in dire straits when it came to recruiting and then retaining industry.

Greg Justice and James Bridges were almost convincing with the propaganda they were spitting out. I guess they forgot about some of the companies that have recently made Valdosta/Lowndes there home with the past 5 – 7 years.

Steeda – Home Depot Distribution – Martin’s Bakery – John Deere PCA Expansion – SAFT Expansion
Does CUEE really want the intelligent citizens of Valdosta/Lowndes to believe that we are not getting our fair share of the pie because of the Valdosta City School system? Did CUEE and the Chamber brain trust not read that Valdosta/Lowndes was recognized as the third best metropolitan area for industrial recruitment and expansion by Expansion Solutions Magazine in 2008? According to the article that I read we are getting way more than most other metropolitans in the US.

(Read attached article) Expansion Solutions Magazine’s 2008 Awards of Excellence in the *** Advanced Manufacturing*** industry category.

… The board is off to a great start with the recent announcement that Steeda Autosports is joining companies like True Flight, manufacturers of Tiger Aircaft, and Martin’s Famous Pastry Shoppe in moving its corporate headquarters, distribution and manufacturing facilities to Valdosta. These projects combine to bring in 407 jobs and $43.8 million dollars in capital investment over the next three years.
I look at the names of these companies, the employees they have hired and the revenue that they have generated in this community and I wonder what were talking about? Is CUEE trying to make us all believe that none of these companies use work force from the Valdosta City Schools?

How did we go here? Not because of education. If the Chamber of Commerce and CUEE were so concerned about the Valdosta City Schools why did they not use some of that money to bring their concerns to the people first? Why keep it such a secret, as if they had something to hide. Why it was that no one from the Chamber or CUEE come before the Valdosta School Board during a scheduled board meeting and publicly state their concerns about the type of education our children were receiving?

How did we get here? Not because of education. I have been volunteering and mentoring children in the Valdosta City system for over 19 years and with the lone exception being Dr. Mathis and Greg Justice I don’t remember seeing any of CUEE’S Board or referendum supporters on any rolls. Where was the Chamber and CUEE when we needed mentors for our children on the south side of town? Where was the Chamber and CUEE when the system faced cost cuts and had to lay off teachers and teacher aids? (They sure could have used some that money)

How did we get here? Not because of education. Last night in a most arrogant tone Mr. Walter Hobgood had the nerve to say when asked about his company volunteering for Community Partners In Education (CPIE) that he never heard of it. He then went on to say no came to him to participate. You’re really about education aren’t you Mr. Hobgood?

How did we get here? Since we now know that it is clearly not because of education, I must now go back to the buzz words I used earlier. Greed, Power, Control, Spoiled and Selfish.

Bottom line is that since the early to mid 90’s, the Chamber of Commerce, its Board and others have been consumed with consolidating the City and County Governments. They have had their lawyers looking into this for years. They have written letters to the Attorney General, the Assistant to the Attorney General, State Reps and even had a former mayor (not John Fretti) to give their opinion on the matter. And the one thing that kept coming from everyone was that it would be difficult if the Valdosta City Schools did not agree to in fact consolidate. This is how we got here!! Creed, Power, Control.

The sad part about what they are doing is that they are using education and their concern for our African American Children as their disguise. The Chamber or its Board and CUEE have not shown any concern for the African American community in the past. They have not invested any real money of any kind on programs that would insure success in the African American community. But now they have the nerve to act like they all of a sudden care. And if CUEE and the Chamber were really concerned about the African American Children being left behind why did they not come into our communities and speak was us directly? Leroy Butler, Dr. Ronnie Mathis, Ruth Council are not the voices for the African American community.

In closing, I have lived in this community for 20 years. I raised my children here and they have all attended Valdosta City Schools. I will be the first to say that the system is not perfect, and I have had my share of concerns and had no problem voicing them. But I voiced them to the Board and when allowed I worked with the board. Even though I did not always agree with their decisions I felt it was my duty as a parent and as a citizen to continue to support our most vital resource our children. I can personally attest that there have been some gains and I believe there are more to come. Consolidation/Unification is not the way to go at this time. Don’t allow Greed, Power and Control to prevail.

Please Vote No!! On Nov. the 8th.

-JC Cunningham

8 thoughts on “How did we get here? —JC Cunningham

  1. Barbara Stratton

    Very well said JC.
    On Thursday 9/29/11 CUEE called a special meeting of their Education Task Force at the City Hall Annex. Reading on and between the lines of the VDT article it appears the new, more agressive tactic is to call into question the conduct and accountability for goverance of education of the Valdosta City Board of Education. Under the leadership of Steve Prigohzy they seem to be heading toward usurping this goverance from the elected school boards to another entity they can control. This is hauntingly familiar if you read an article titled Tennessee Waltz from the Education Week Teacher.
    Leadership for the post consolidation planning was forcibly taken from the county superintendent and given to the Public Education Foundation of Chattanooga, TN, which was headed by CUEE’s own Steven H. Prigohzy. His specialty seems to be powering school consolidations and overseeing the resulting planning which does little to improve the academic or financial conditions of the public schools (actually these get worse). It does however provide the perfect climate for pulling grant monies to establish the magnet schools he also specializes in.
    From this profile you can also see that he headed the International School of Islamabad, Pakistan. No wonder he advocated going after $2.5 million grant monies from the George Soros supported, Annenberg Foundation for the Chattanooga/Hamilton Co. planning. (Tennessee Waltz articla)
    I personally would be willing to give my life to save my grandchild from being exposed to any curriculim supported by the Annenberg Foundation since Walter H. Annenberg was a known supporter of anti-solidarity for America and also terrorism against capitalism.
    I sent my two children to private school for two years. When it became apparant that the constant criticism of the public school environments from their private school was causing them to feel superior to those students, they were returned to public schools. Although my children and grandchildren are my favorite students. I am also concerned and responsible for all students regardless of race or ethnicity (except they should be legal residents and not illegal trespassers). I will never support the idea of magnet schools that select (usually by lottery) a few students that are petted and groomed to excell while the majority of students fall through the post consolidation cracks. This is not equality or justice for all. It does however, create avenues for grabbing grant monies that benefit some local developers at the expense of the majority of all the children and the community.
    Please attend the Thursday 10/06/11 meeting of the Education Task Force in the City Hall Annex. You will probably not be allowed to speak or ask questions, but at least you will know what is going on. Also, please note you do not have to sign any list even though they will try to make you. They use the list to claim agreement concensus since no disagreement is allowed.

  2. Barbara Stratton

    If you go to the Education Week Teacher website it will say the Tennesse Waltz article is only available to registered guests, but registration is free.

  3. Barbara Stratton

    Here’s one reference for the Annenberg/Soros connection. I don’t post anything that can be proven libelous. You know I hate posting references for everything because I believe the readers can do time themselves researching if they think it is wrong. They will find numerous references to the Sorros/Ayers/Annenberg/Obama connections. Providing reference for everything is enablement and I hate enablement.

  4. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

    Um, Barbara, someone else saying the same thing you are with no source is not a reference; it’s just a rumor.
    On the one hand, comments here are obviously just the opinions of their authors and not of LAKE, and even blog posts on the LAKE blog are the opinions of their authors except in the very rare cases where they say “for LAKE” at the bottom.
    On the other hand, enabling transparency is what the LAKE blog is about, and repeating rumors doesn’t do that. Citing reliable sources does help with transparency.
    For those who are not familiar with reliability of sources, here’s one dimension of it, regarding primary and secondary sources:
    Rumors are neither; they’re just rumors.

  5. Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange

    Some readers may not be familiar with Godwin’s Law:
    Now that’s a Wikipedia article, and thus not a primary source. However, it cites many primary sources, including at least three written by Mike Godwin, the author of Godwin’s Law, the earliest of which says:
    “Godwin’s Rule of Nazi Analogies: As a Usenet discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one.”
    You don’t have to know what USENET is to understand the applicability of that Law to any online discussion. (If you do want to know about USENET, I wrote a book I can lend you.)
    I can add another primary source. I have known Mike Godwin for many years; I was involved in USENET and remember when he formulated his Law; I assisted EFF at the same time he was working for EFF; and I have discussed Godwin’s Law directly with him.
    I can also attest to the validity of this part of the Wikipedia writeup:
    “There are many corollaries to Godwin’s law, some considered more canonical (by being adopted by Godwin himself)[3] than others.[1] For example, there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever debate was in progress.[7]”

  6. Karen Noll

    After reading the Ed Weekly article, I was struck by a very strong dejavu feeling. I checked the date twice and only to realize ( twice) that this consolidation went on more than 15 years ago.
    The city schools were in bad shape financially and educationally in Chatnooga city. That is the major difference with our situation here. As much as some want you to believe that Valdosta city schools are not doing well, there are many that can point to the school improvement plan and it being recognized as one of the best in the state, or other notable achievements that differ front the view of VCS propagated by the folks on CUEE.
    Other than that we are looking at the same issues; racial segregation, neighborhood schools, professional development monies in the different district, curriculum changes, busing to attain integration requirements, and the concerns about redistricting and moving kids to other schools.
    Again this was 15 years ago, yet we are now faced with the same issues. At the time of the article consolidation had passed (19k to 21k). Teachers and parents Interviewed expressed concern about the poor kids of the city not getting a fair shake because the county (largely white) schools had little connection to the issues of the city kids. We would be faced with that just on a smaller scale.
    The other strange likeness to this 15 year old consolidation is that Steve Prigozhy seems to have some very vague notions of school reform today that he did back then. These notions have been found to be less than successful in the ensuing 15 years.
    Distancing himself from his failures does not make him a success at anything but manipulation of facts. The education of my children is not going to be reformed by a man that spins the truth and panders to the wealthy.
    Thank you for sharing the Edweekly article.
    Karen Noll

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