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It's all about education
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When strangers in a doctor's waiting room chide me for failing to write columns, maybe there are more than my loyal friends who are reading it.

And although I'm really not out and about enough to keep up to date, there are some things I do want to comment about.

So, hello again.

Now that campaign season is in full swing (as if it hasn't been for months), we are also seeing advertisements, pro and con, concerning Amendment 1 -- or Question 1, which would authorize a state constitutional amendment.

You may remember that I discussed that question earlier in the year and warned readers to think very carefully about giving the executive branch of state government such unlimited power in appointing positions for alternative (opportunity) school districts.

You may have seen similar warnings in articles in recent issues of this newspaper.

Opportunities are rampant for tax money to be used for privately controlled schools scattered over the state, even schools controlled by for- profit corporations.

Local control can be completely negated; hiring and firing of administrators and teachers would be under the jurisdiction of appointed, not elected, superintendents and boards. So would the use of existing school buildings and the building of new ones. Money for public schools would diminish.

You are aware, I hope, that our local school board has expressed disapproval of this proposal.

Of course I know that many public schools have poor records and students who fail to measure up to standards. Many of these are in areas where students come unprepared and where many parents are not involved in, nor even interested in, the students' progress.

These schools could use more incentives and more resources and perhaps more oversight. That would be money well spent -- in existing public schools.

Our Dawson County school system is not in the "failing category," but they can be affected by financial restrictions.

As a matter of fact, I have been very favorably impressed by what is happening in our local schools.

I have no real connection with them anymore; I have never taught in Dawson County and I've been retired for more than 30 years, but for many years I was privileged to read to different groups and participate in school activities through the Woman's Club and other civic organizations.

Even now, through the Retired Educators Association, I am often in local schools for meetings.

I am amazed and encouraged by what I observe and hear concerning curriculum, resources and results. We should be proud and supportive.

Speaking of the retired educators group, we still have a limited number of the book Charles Finley wrote about the history of Dawson County schools, "Yesterday Once More."

These are for sale, $30 per copy, by the association at such public events as the Mountain Moonshine Festival, or from Nicky Gilleland, call (706) 216-2404, and sometimes the library.

Proceeds from the sales are used to fund an annual scholarship for a teacher or paraprofessional who is furthering his/her education.

You will find the book both informational and interesting.

That is enough of my advice for the moment.

Helen Taylor's column appears periodically in the Dawson County News.