Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Impertinent Observations

An oldie but goodie from our Schoolhouse Rock days:

I give the Clarke County School District a hard time about its high level of spending and poor academic performance (and will continue to do so as I think appropriate), but recognize that not all is doom and gloom.

Algebra I students in the District’s four middle schools did rather well on the state’s End-of-Course Test this past spring. Of the 870 participating “schools and programs,” Clarke Middle School’s average score placed it first in the state, Hillsman Middle School’s came in at number 28, Burney-Harris-Lyons Middle School’s at 138, and W.R. Coile Middle School’s at number 182 – not too shabby. Of course, the scores only represent those students taking algebra (i.e., the high achievers who will be taking those AP tests in a few years), not the respective student bodies as wholes, but are impressive nonetheless. Also, congratulations to those students who earned their diplomas by attending summer school.

Speaking of education, while reasonable people may disagree over what to do with the $142 million surplus currently resting in the state’s coffers, the idea of throwing more tax money into the public education bureaucracy is unsupportable in any rational sense (of course, the political aspects are another matter altogether). I personally favor the idea of putting the surplus into reserves - though the idea of a property tax refund has appeal, I do not think that it is really feasible or worthwhile.

I have studied school system millage rates, per pupil expenditures, test scores, graduation rates, and AYP measurements for a long time and can find no meaningful positive correlation between increased spending and increased academic success. None. So, this is a political ploy. Democrats are simply playing to their base on this one - pure and simple. There is no reason whatsoever to think that a one-time windfall of $142 million will improve the quality of public education in Georgia by one iota. But, anyone who opposes the idea will be pilloried.

Insofar as issues under consideration by the commission are concerned, I have the sneaking suspicion that we have not heard the last of either restrictions on public comment (tabled and referred to the Government Operations Committee; see item 21), or a much more restrictive alcohol ordinance.

Finally, though there is not much to be found there yet, Representative Paul Broun’s official web site is here. By the way, the good doctor's much-ballyhooed vote on the medical marijuana issue was entirely in keeping with his expressed political philosophy, so what was the big deal? I just hope that he keeps on voting that way.

And with that, The Other Athens and family are out of town for a few days of R&R before school starts up.

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