Issue 11.52 | Tuesday, Sept. 27, 2011
GwinnettForum.com is a twice-weekly online community commentary for exploring pragmatic and sensible social, political and economic approaches to improve life in Gwinnett County, Ga. USA.
ATLANTA, Ga., Sept.27, 2011 -- The cheating scandal plaguing the Atlanta Public Schools system is yet another black eye in Georgia's dismal education record. It is time for Atlantans - and all Georgians - to move forward and ask how we can improve our schools.
Obviously, ensuring teachers follow the rules is not enough to create a quality education system. What makes for a successful education system is a complex issue and, while there are no silver bullets, there are measures that can improve the quality of education. One such measure is the development of digital learning.
Many schools using the digital-learning approach are accredited, public k-12 schools. These schools come in a range of forms, from hybrid models where time is split between working on computers and studying with teachers to home-centered learning.
Digital education may seem like the latest fad in education, and there is no doubt that students have suffered from many well-intentioned but counterproductive educational trends. Is digital learning destined to become the latest of these? There are several reasons suggesting "no."
Both students and teachers benefit from digital learning, by enabling personalized learning. Students can focus on the areas where they need the most improvement. Teachers enjoy increased time, flexibility, and knowledge of individual students' progress, allowing them to teach more efficiently.
Digital media is an omnipresent reality in our lives, and will continue to be so in the future. Educational methods need to be able to capture students' attention and actively engage them in learning. Since children are so used to interacting with digital media, successful teaching methods will involve computer-based learning.
Consider, too, that digital learning can also save money. Last December, Georgia approved spending $5,800 per pupil for online charter schools; the nationwide average is about $6,500. According to the Georgia Department of Education, Georgia spent an average of $8,761.39 per (public school) pupil in 2010. Growing Georgia's digital learning capabilities can save substantial amounts of taxpayer money.
There are currently three major digital learning operations in Georgia: Georgia Cyber Academy, Georgia Virtual School and Georgia Connections Academy, the first serving approximately 6,000 students. Through increased support Georgia can save money and help children escape the one-size-fits-all approach proven to be a failure.
The digital learning approach is not for everyone. By itself, it cannot provide an optimal learning experience. Accountability, quality content, sound teaching methodology and educational philosophy, and physical education, are all crucial components of a healthy education. Digital learning models must incorporate these if they are to be successful. For most students, blended-learning (computer learning paired with in-person teacher/student, student/student interaction in a traditional school setting) is likely to be the most effective choice.
the most important factor in a successful education is the motivation
to learn. Fostering this desire is the most important task in education.
In this regard, digital learning can only do so much. That said, online
learning can - and will - be an important component in a healthy, successful
education system. The sooner parents, educators, entrepreneurs and policymakers
realize this, the sooner Georgia can be on its way towards academic excellence.
© Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
SEPT. 27, 2011 -- The trip to New England was to see the fall color of the leaves. We were slightly early for full color, and we enjoyed the settings. Instead the trip turned out to emphasize the destructiveness of Hurricane Irene, particularly in the central part of Vermont and in the Catskills of New York.
Vermonters are independent, and immediately set to right the problems the floodwaters caused. Three weeks after the floods caused by nine inches of rain from the hurricane, the people were rebounding. Many bridges were out, sections or roads were slowing traffic with either repairs or detours, but the spirits of the Green Mountain state people were high.
"Where you are now," a Vermonter told us in the parking lot of Shaw's supermarket in Ludlow, Vt., there was four feet of water." The supermarket had been flooded, and repairmen were working to re-pair and re-open the store. Meanwhile, Shaw's had set up a giant tent, one like used for wedding parties, operating three aisles of groceries, temporary freezers and produce bins, in this emergency set-up.
surprised even Vermonters was the ferocity of the raging flood waters.
Some remembered the floods of 1973, which were severe. But the 2011 floods
were record-setting throughout the state. Altogether, the damage showed
over 300 bridges out in the state, and untold miles of road needing repair,
at least $10 billion in repair costs. People from throughout the state
pitched in to assist the areas most severely hit, with heavy draglines,
Caterpillars, National Guard dump trucks and other heavy equipment in
constant use, in some places 24/7.
The smaller streams often rose quickly ..and fell just as quickly, leaving massive destruction. One guy who lived near the Williams River said his basement was flooded about 4 p.m. one afternoon, "but it only lasted about 15 minutes. Then the water immediately went down." Meanwhile, a few hundred feet from his house, the floods took out an historic 100 foot-long covered bridge. "It's about a half mile down the river, on the bank," he told us. Neighbors were surveyed on how to re-build that bridge, with most wanting to keep it as it was, a one lane bridge, but vital to the community.
Meanwhile, the area's agriculture suffered from the floods. Fields of corn were seen in many river bottoms, standing 6-7 feet tall and ready to harvest. Yet the soggy ground won't allow in mechanical pickers. It may be at least a month before the soil is dry enough to harvest, no doubt hurting the corn yield.
One Vermonter put it this way: "We were worried about the hurricane's winds causing problems. Normally we don't get that much rain from hurricanes. But Irene was different. It was all that rain which caused the problems."
You pass house after house where you find the gray soil from the streams deposited in the yards, now mostly pushed level by plows more used to clearing snow. Meanwhile, rocky boulders were tossed around and deposited downstream. Large trees were uprooted to form the debris, many now pushed together to burn later. It may be a year before all this is cleared.
This doesn't phase the Vermonters. Their steady, independent spirit will carry them through.
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Editor, the Forum:
I truly enjoyed Mr. Edinger's comments on Berkeley Lake's dam repairs funded by the federal government. As I have been watching the so called "debates" for the upcoming elections next year (isn't this a bit early?), I see a haunting common theme. Maybe it is not the politicians, but all the voters who need a reality check. We cannot continue down the road of demanding little to no Federal government while still continually demanding government assistance at every turn.
I share Mr. Edinger's feelings in that we do not as a nation turn our backs on people in need whether it be natural disaster or man made. The concern I have is how do we continually harp about the need to reduce and even eliminate taxes, yet expect services and support to also continue? It is equivalent to quitting my job and expecting my mortgage and bills to be paid. Where will the money come from should I quit working?
Do we have room to adjust where we spend? Absolutely! That takes actual conversation, cooperation and planning, none of which the Republican or Democratic leadership seems to want to do. The one person who often makes these same statements in government today is the President and he is ridiculed for this! I feel sadly, that Don Henley was right: we get the government we deserve. If we do not want to have an honest fact based conversation as a nation on how we spend our tax dollars then we deserve what ever chaos ensues from that.
Responds to earlier comments about Berkeley Lake Dam
Editor, the Forum:
My only comment would be Mr. Edinger's extremely loose use of the words "natural disaster." No way one can associate the aging issue prevalent in the Berkeley Lake dam issue with the devastation experienced by homeowners up and down the East Coast as a result of Hurricane Irene. When one buys a house, they should realize that eventually the roof will have to be replaced and should "Save" accordingly for that day. Most do. However, as a municipality should be aware of impending maintenance issues to a structure like a dam will one day be an issue; one should not sit back complacently and "assume" that the Federal Government will pick up the cost.
The lack of a spill gate (there was one but it was removed as there was a cost issue in fixing it) removed the ability of the city to manage water levels and thus they incurred a "disaster" due to poor planning and management.
Lastly, the citizens voted for the bonds as there was a fear that the government would not come up with the money to fix the dam..not because they were trying to save the government money and take on the cost themselves; they were always hopeful and now grateful that the cost is not theirs to bear.
You could be rear-ended when stopping not required
Editor, The Forum:
Your article on school bus safety was informative. Thank you. I was one of those drivers who thought a stop was required on a divided highway going in the opposite direction. Last time I did this on Beaver Ruin Road, it occurred to me that if I were wrong, it could possible cause an accident from the cars that were driving up from behind me, not expecting my stopped car.
Says that old fishing road was first school bus safety gate
Editor, the Forum:
the bus arm referred to by Grant Reppert, my Magyver type dad Al King
was director of pupil transportation for the state of Georgia in the 70s
and 80s. Dad built one of the first prototypes for the school bus safety
arm in our Snellville garage using a fishing rod. He considers it one
of the best achievements of his career. He was determined to stop having
to call parents with devastating news. To this day dad can still fix practically
School bus stops required on undivided 4-lane roads
Editor, the Forum:
Your article on stopping for school buses does not make it clear whether drivers have to stop in the other direction on an undivided four-lane highway. My understanding is that they do.
they don't when there is a median (I think) is that a child who is crossing
the road can step onto the median and wait for traffic to clear, but when
there is no median they are unsafe until they cross completely.
This gets interesting on streets such as Buford Drive (Georgia Highway 20) in Lawrenceville, where drivers normally travel at a high rate of speed. Please clarify the rule.
Wants City of Norcross to get divide marker like Duluth
Editor, the Forum:
We folks in Norcross must get us a monument on the sub-continential divide like Duluth now has. I hate they got one and we do not. What can we do to make it happen??
Aurora Theatre's 16th Sensational Season continues with a new comedy about Civil War re-enactors, Gray Area by John Ahlin, running October 6 - 30.
In this play, a scathing theater critic and radio commentator takes a gratuitous swipe at Civil War re-enactors as his final public salvo. When three "good ole Dixie boys" read his remarks they decide they cannot let him go unchallenged. They decide to bring the windbag below the Mason-Dixon Line for retribution. This comical collision of worlds is a full out raging debate.
Stereotypes are the biggest casualty in this delightfully uncivil comedy. This timely production coincides with Georgia's Civil War Sesquicentennial, commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in Georgia.
Aurora welcomes Sherri Sutton back to the Atlanta theatre scene as the director of this Southern fried comedy. Playwright John Ahlin's Gray Area won the Virtual Theatre Project's 'The Pen Is A Mighty Sword' international play competition. On Thursday, October 20: Playwright and Actor John Ahlin will join the cast of Gray Area for a post-show discussion to take questions from the audience.
are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday at 2:30
p.m. Tickets are $16 to $30. For more information, call 678-226-6222 or
Duluth Police will continue to combat teen driving deaths by taking their Operation Drive Smart program to 15 high schools across Georgia during the 2012 academic year. The Department will partner with the Governor's Office of Highway Safety, through a $38,900 grant, to provide funding for travel to the schools throughout the state.
Lt. Bill Stevens says that during the last year, "We had to turn down three schools who wanted us to present the program." Since inception over 150,000 Georgia teenagers have participated in the program. Duluth officers and Georgia State Patrol troopers work together supporting other jurisdictions in curbing teen traffic crashes. Lt. Stevens said, "The program is a win-win for the students, schools and communities that participate because our efforts are to education and mentor young drivers."
For more information about Operation Drive Smart, contact Sgt. Steve Daniels at the Duluth Police Department. The program has been presented from Chatham County on the southern coast to Murray County on the Tennessee state line.
Suwanee nabs another upgrading of its GO bond rating
of Suwanee's general obligation bond rating has been raised three times
over the past 17 months. Recently, Fitch Ratings upgraded the City's rating
on its general obligation and revenue bonds to AA+ from AA.
"New York Times Columnist Thomas Friedman attracts me to his columns with his common sense viewpoints peppered with metaphors. Much of those "NYT Friedmanisms" can be found in Friedman's latest book, co-written by Michael Mandelbaum, entitled That Used To Be Us: How America Fell Behind In The World It Invented and How We Can Come Back. The book's premise focuses on how to improve the U.S. economy by identifying four major issues that affect it: Globalization, Information Technology, Deficits and Energy Consumption. The authors go on to contend that education is one of the key components to create a competitive job market. Friedman and Mandelbaum conclude with a solution: the creation of a third political party that appeals to the center. This is a refreshing book that tells the readers what they ought to hear."
one of the original Associates of Dr. Bray and an architect of the charter,
maintained an interest in Georgia throughout the
life of the Trust. He arranged the Salzburger settlement and negotiated
with the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts for
When Oglethorpe became preoccupied with the Spanish war, Vernon proposed the plan of dividing the colony into two provinces, Savannah and Frederica, each with a president and magistrates. The Trustees named William Stephens president in Savannah, and he served until 1751, when he was replaced by Henry Parker in the final year of the Trust's tenure.
Oglethorpe neglected to name a president for Frederica, and the magistrates there were instructed to report to Stephens. The Trustees did not want to appoint a single governor because the king in council had to approve the appointment of governors, and the Trustees preferred to keep control in their hands. After Egmont's retirement in 1742, Vernon became the indispensable man. He missed only four of 114 meetings during the last nine years of the Trust and supervised the removal of restrictions on land tenure, rum, and slavery.
Egmont, the first president of the Common Council and the dominant figure among the Trustees until his retirement, acted as Georgia's champion in Parliament. He strongly opposed Walpole's attempts to conciliate Spain at the expense of Georgia. He had to walk a careful line, however, because the Trustees depended upon Walpole for their annual subsidies.
Other Trustees contributed according to their abilities. Henry L'Apostre advised on finances, Samuel Smith on religion, and Thomas Tower on legal matters, particularly on instructions to Georgia officials. Stephen Hales's closeness to the royal family and his standing as a scientist lent prestige to the body of Trustees. Shaftesbury, a political opponent of Walpole, joined the Common Council in 1733 and, except for a brief resignation, remained faithful to the end. He led the negotiations to convert Georgia to a royal colony. For the entire twenty years the Trustees employed only two staff members, Benjamin Martyn as secretary and Harman Verelst as accountant.
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"The Constitution gives every American the inalienable right to make a damn fool of himself."
SEARCH GWINNETT FORUM
Dedication of Gwinnett Tech's Life Sciences Building: 8:45 a.m., Sept. 28. Expected to be present: U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson and Commissioner Ron Jackson of the Technical College System of Georgia. The three-story, 78,000 square foot building will serve 3,000 health-education students annually.
(NEW) 8th Annual ArtsFest, with 180 local and national artists line key streets in Norcross: from 10 a.m. Oct. 1 and from 1 p.m. Oct. 2, Heritage Park, across from the Community Center. New this year will be a Literary Arts Venue, where published authors will read from their work, creative people will talk about their work, and historians and longtime residents will recollect yesteryear in Gwinnett. More info.
Free Admission to the Aurora Theatre's presentation of a play, Gray Area, about Civil War re-enactors: 8 p.m., Oct. 4. he free admission is part of the annual Fall Into the Arts celebration by the Gwinnett County Public Library. Reservations are suggested by contacting the theatre.
(NEW) Fall into the Arts: 7 p.m. Oct. 6, Thomas P. Hughes Ballroom at Gwinnett Center, Duluth. The event will present author Siddharta Mukherjee, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize, as part of the Gwinnett Public Library's Gwinnett Reads program. Mukherjee's The Emperor of All Maladies has been recognized as one of the "10 Best Books of 2010." For more information, visit online here or call 770-978-5154.
(NEW) PhotoMix Exhibit: Third Annual Kudzu/Atlanta Celebrates Photography Event Friday and Saturday, October 7-29 at Kudzu Art Zone in Norcross. This month-long exhibit of 12 Kudzu members seeks to expand the awareness of visual arts. The opening reception is Friday, October 14. Details here.
(NEW)Snellville Historical Society meeting: 2:30 p.m., Oct. 9, City Hall Community Room. Speaker will be Dr. George D. N. Coletti, historian of Stone Mountain.
Rainbow Village Gala: 6:30 p.m., Oct. 22, Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek. Wilmington Trust is the presenting sponsor. Dinner, entertainment and a silent auction will mark the 20 years of celebration. Entertainment will be with Blue Sky Atlanta. Reserve seats.
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