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Time to pay attention
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It's that time of year again.

Our state legislature is in session and it is our responsibility as Georgia citizens to pay attention to what is happening at the capitol. Two articles in last weeks' paper caught my attention.

In the article on Gov. Nathan Deal's inauguration, Rep. Kevin Tanner pointed out that funding for transportation and education will be top priorities for lawmakers. That is great. Education has been slashed by more than $10 billion in the last 12 years and transportation has been ignored.

Here are the problems I see: In his inaugural address, Deal highlighted the students of Utopian Academy, a state charter school.

He said that without this school these students would be sitting in schools that are underperforming.

Therein lies the problem.

What that means is that thousands of students in Georgia are sitting in schools that are underperforming because for the past 12 years nothing has been done to improve traditional public schools.

So we select a few lucky students for the state charter schools and leave the rest to fail.

At a recent conference I asked the new state School Superintendent, Richard Woods, Sen. Lindsey Tippins and Rep. Mike Dudgeon how the formation of state charter schools, tax-supported home schooling and vouchers for private schools helped improve traditional public schools. They had no answer.

The other issue that caught my attention was Sen. Steve Gooch's statement that we could fund part of the cost for updating our transportation system by taking back the "4th penny."

The 7 percent state sales tax is divided so 4 percent goes to the state and 3 percent to local governments.

The 4th penny of the state share goes into the general fund instead of to the Department of Transportation.

If we took that back it could mean as much as $200 million a year for transportation.

That means the general fund would shrink, meaning more cuts to education, health care and other vital services. Does that really solve any problems?

By the way, congratulations to the hard working students and teachers at Dawson County High School for being named to the AP District Honor Roll.

 

Bette Holland

Dawsonville

 

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