The Jackson Herald
April 19, 2000
idea is heresy in academia
One should forgive Jackson County Board
of Education Chairman Barry Cronic for believing an incentive
pay plan for teachers would be accepted. It was an honest mistake,
coming as it did from a layman of the private sector.
How was Cronic to know that his proposal would be soundly rejected
by teachers and some administrators? After all, in private business
incentive pay is the norm, not an aberration. It may not be called
"incentive pay," but most private businesses reward
employees for performance, sometimes with bonuses, sometimes
with other perks.
But in the egalitarian world of academia, such plans are heresy.
There is a strong belief within that system that teacher pay
should be based only on tenure and degrees. Performance reviews
and supply and demand seldom get attention, although this year's
debate over the governor's education bill did put a spotlight
on the issue.
Still, there is an inherent resistance to making any fundamental
change as to how educators are paid. The usual cry against the
idea is that allowing principals or other administrators to decide
on performance questions is "too subjective." Amazingly,
even good teachers who would likely earn performance rewards
oppose such plans, apparently because they don't want to be singled
out as a "principal's pet." Everything good that happens
in a school, any school, is always said to be due to "teamwork,"
ergo no one should be singled out as being better than another.
If the reader sees a relationship of this ideology to that found
in much of today's classroom curriculum, he wouldn't be wrong.
The idea of elevating the group (teamwork) and downplaying individual
efforts (incentives) is pervasive in much of the academic world,
both in how teachers are paid and in how students are graded.
The singling out of individual achievements is losing out to
the more nebulous concept of rewarding selected "groups."
Admittedly, Mr. Cronic's idea needed some fine-tuning. But the
overwhelming rejection of the concept says something much deeper
about the philosophical values which underpin the academic world
- values which are at odds with efforts to make public education
more effective by making it more competitive and accountable.
If Gov. Barnes thought the tenure issue was hot, just wait until
he touches the pay scales.
The Commerce News
April 19, 2000
More Donors Of
Organs And Tissue Are Needed
By an act of Congress, this week, April
16-22, is officially "National Organ and Tissue Donor Awareness
Week," the idea of which is to make more people aware of
the need for organ and tissue donors and the great amount of
good that such donors accomplish.
In Georgia, there are two steps that one takes to become a potential
donor. The first is to tell family members and to gain their
acceptance; the second is to sign up when you renew your driver's
license. The first step is as crucial as the second, because
in the event of death, the loved ones must still sign off before
organs or tissues can be taken.
Being a donor makes something good come out of death; it brings
life and health to people in need. According to the United Network
for Organ Sharing, more than 17,000 lives were saved last year
by replacing damaged and failing hearts, kidneys, livers and
other organs. An estimated 500,000 tissue transplants treated
a variety of patients to prevent amputations and replace bone
tissue damaged by cancer, infection and injuries; to restore
sight with donated corneas; to help burn victims heal faster;
and to restore heart functions. William Vandiver, former Commerce
superintendent of schools, was one of the fortunate ones. He
received a new heart last Wednesday and is doing very well.
But the demand for organ and tissue donors is greater than the
supply. Currently, the national patient waiting list has more
than 68,000 people listed for transplants of organs. Nearly 900
of those are Georgians. Every day, 11 people die awaiting a life-saving
organ transplant. Thousands more await tissue transplants.
There is no good reason that a waiting list should exist, and
all it would take to eliminate the list and to save countless
lives would be for each Georgia adult to sign on as a tissue
and organ donor. For information on becoming a potential donor,
call 1-800-544-6667. Being a donor extends generosity beyond
even death. Next time you renew your Georgia driver's license,
inform your family of your decision and sign up.
Rejoice On Easter
For those of us who have lived in the
Bible Belt for all our lives, the egg hunts, special services
and attention paid toward Easter seem routine. But in other parts
of the country, where churches are not as prominent in their
communities, Easter appears to be just another day for most people.
In the South, and certainly here, Easter is the most important
holy day there is. Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians ... all
Christian congregations join in celebration of the event that
proved Jesus was indeed the Christ. It is a day of sunrise services,
a day when larger-than-usual crowds turn out for regular church
services, a day of new suits and dresses. Easter is still regarded
as a time when those who are Christians should be in church to
give thanks for the sacrifice of Christ and the love of God.
People might argue about whether America is a "Christian
nation," but among people who are affiliated with a religion,
the vast majority still claim one of the Christian denominations.
By sheer numbers then, Easter should be a major holiday in America,
one that means more than colored eggs, an Easter bunny and new
clothing. It ought to be the most sacred of all days, a celebration
of the fact that when Jesus' followers went to his tomb, they
found it empty, for Christ had risen. It should be a reminder
that Christ died for the world's sins, and that there is no sinner
so evil that he cannot gain forgiveness by acknowledging Jesus,
confessing and repenting.
Easter is our holiday, the day that proved to us God's love for
all mankind. We rejoice in its arrival this Sunday.
The Jackson Herald
April 19, 2000
Demos gunning for Tolbert
The Georgia Democratic Party is learning
what it's like to hunt for elephants with an empty gun. Having
targeted Republican Rep. Scott Tolbert for the upcoming elections,
Democrats have yet to find a confirmed candidate. The party is
even taking the unusual step of running a "candidate wanted"
ad in this week's newspaper in an effort to encourage someone
to make a bid for the office.
All of which points to the dramatic shift taking place in local
politics. Once a part of the solid Democratic South, Jackson
County has moved strongly toward the Republican Party during
the last 10 years.
The influx of new people, many from the Republican stronghold
of Gwinnett County, has accelerated this change. Not knowing
many of the candidates personally, new area voters tend to identify
with party labels. Because of that, a slew of local Democratic
office holders are mulling a change in party affiliation this
Rep. Tolbert was one of the first to jump off the Democratic
ship and cast his lot with the Republicans. That is one reason
his former party is targeting him this year - jumping ship in
midstream is a political faux pas and usually brings a strong
While Tolbert's jump to the Republican Party was partly a move
in self-preservation, there is an element of ideology in the
mix. One reason the Georgia Democratic Party has had difficulty
recruiting a candidate to oppose Tolbert is its association with
the National Democratic Party's liberal left. While party politics
has little to do with local officials, few want to put their
name on the ballot just below that of Al Gore and the echo of
the Clinton administration. The various liberal factions that
dominate the National Democratic Party taint the ballot all the
way down the list.
But that doesn't mean a Democrat couldn't win in the state House
race. Rep. Tolbert has invited opposition as the result of his
open stand against county leaders on the Water Wise issue. If
there was any doubt about where his loyalties really are, he
answered that by going to the well of the state House and attempting
to gut a bill in order to help Water Wise, his private legal
client. When a public official attempts to use his elected position
to help a private client, he has abused the trust of voters.
Of course, Rep. Tolbert likes to say that the issue is one only
between himself and this newspaper, which has been outspoken
and critical of his role in the Water Wise matter for months.
But it isn't only this newspaper that noticed his self-serving
actions - Rep. Tolbert was given a "Golden Sleaze Award"
by Creative Loafing, an Atlanta area newspaper, for his "unenlightened
self-interest." His fellow legislators also noted his actions
and openly challenged his stand on the issue.
There are other matters of Rep. Tolbert's tenure that also invite
scrutiny, but so far no candidate, Democrat or Republican, has
stepped forward to challenge him. That in spite of tremendous
wooing by the Democratic Party of several potential candidates.
The highest on their list has been commissioner Pat Bell who
so far has been reluctant to commit to the race, in part because
Rep. Tolbert has a huge war chest that would be difficult to
match even with help from the state party.
But the party issue is larger than just Rep. Tolbert. In the
background are efforts by Republicans to mount a challenge to
Sen. Eddie Madden, a Democrat. Although Madden has had consistently
high ratings in Jackson County, the Republican wave here invites
opposition. Most believe a new Congressional seat will be created
in Northeast Georgia and any Republican that unseats Madden would
be in a strong position to make a run for Congress.
And so, Jackson County is at the center of a giant political
chess match between Democrats and Republicans. Both parties are
making moves here, either to recapture a lost seat (Tolbert),
or gain a new seat (Madden).
Next week's qualifying will set the stage for that battle. The
outcome will echo in both Atlanta and Washington. And you, the
voters, get to decide who wins.
Mike Buffington is editor of The Jackson Herald.
The Commerce News
April 19, 2000
Of Easter, Photos Have Both Faded
You don't realize when you're experiencing
them, but family observances generate a lot of memories that
will be cherished later when the family is spread out and some
Christmas, Thanksgiving and Easter come to mind in particular
because these were holidays that always brought my family together
as we were growing up.
I can't remember ever believing that there was an Easter bunny,
though I'm sure I did. Nor do I have but the most vague memories
of participating in an Easter egg hunt, though I am equally sure
that I participated in several.
Memories are very subjective; mine has proven faulty on occasion,
but sometimes what is remembered was far better than what actually
We had our own Easter ritual. What I can remember of it involved
harvesting Spanish moss from the oak trees in our Florida yard,
which my brother Jim, sister Laurel and I would fashion into
three separate "nests" into which my mother would dump
all of the candy.
Clad in pajamas, the three of us would arise early Easter morning
and rush out onto our screened-in porch to see what chocolate
bunnies, jellybeans and hard-boiled eggs had been deposited.
After eating our fill, which took about 10 minutes, attention
turned to The Tampa Tribune's comics pages. While my memories
of specific Easters are all kind of rolled together, I do recall
that we had a knock-down free-for-all one Easter morning over
possession of the comics section, not exactly the appropriate
behavior with which to mark the resurrection of Jesus.
Jim and I hated going to church on Easter mornings, because it
meant having to wait on Laurel and my mother to get ready, an
event prolonged by new outfits and the absolute necessity of
having every hair in place. Then we were subjected to the annual
Family Photo, prints of which cause great hilarity in my family
After church, we'd race the quarter mile home rather than wait
for the rest of the family to load into the car, so we could
hit the chocolate-covered rabbits, jelly beans and malted milk
balls sufficiently to make us disinterested in dinner.
When my kids were little, Easter meant a trip to Monroe to visit
Barbara's parents. The pre-church scene was little different
than from when I was a child, except the "nests" were
replaced by Easter baskets and no one ever fought over the Atlanta
Journal's comics. The moss nests did come with red bugs, but
they were less troublesome than the "nest" material
used today that mysteriously reappears one fiber at a time years
after the last Easter basket was thrown out.
We'd stage an egg hunt in Monroe, after which the kids would
hide all of the eggs again and make the adults seek them. But
first, we'd have a second round of family pictures, including
grandparents and cousins, and then eat dinner.
The kids are grown and half the grandparents are dead, but all
of those Easters live on in memories and photographs. Both have
faded somewhat, but they get more precious every year.