Archive for April, 2012

4/19: Funds for stellar pre-k

Moderated by Rick Badie

The National Institute for Early Education gave Georgia’s pre-kindergarten program a top rating for meeting 10 quality standards.

But there’s bad news, too: Our rating, the report warns, likely will drop next year.

Today, the director of the nonpartisan institute explains why, and I observe an energetic pre-k class at Akers Academy in Alpharetta.

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4/18: Afraid of ‘big bad wolf’

Moderated by Rick Badie

The Federal Trade Commission reports there were nearly 2 million complaints of fraud, identity theft and other practices last year, a 40 percent rise. Identity theft topped the list and, of all states, Georgia has the second-highest incidence of identity theft complaints.

Today, a guest columnist digs deeper into the data while another writer talks about child identity theft.

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4/17: MultiModal Passenger Terminal

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

After years of speculation, the proposed MultiModal Passenger Terminal downtown, slated for the corroded canyon known as the “Gulch,” finally has some life.

Major developers are drawing up a master plan and laying the groundwork for cooperation with the freight rail companies that use existing tracks.

But advocates warn that failure to pass the July 31 referendum on a regional transportation sales tax — even though the terminal is not on the project list — could damage its chances for federal funds.

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4/15: Georgia Legislature: An empty feeling

By the AJC Editorial Board

The Legislature in 2011 stubbornly refused to act on model legislation to create 21st-century governance for the Atlanta region’s multiple transit agencies. They nixed a model that’s proved its worth elsewhere.
What bubbled up instead this year was more of the tired same — a proposal to move transit oversight to a state-controlled board. That might make sense in a state that contributes meaningfully to urban transit. Georgia doesn’t.

This idea, too, went nowhere. Lawmakers also stonewalled a measure to extend MARTA’s relief from an important funding restriction, which is to end next year. Read the rest of what the AJC Editorial Board had to say.

Then check out what Mike Klein, editor at The Georgia Public Policy Foundation, has to say, along with commentary by Alan Essig, executive director of the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, and tell us what you think.

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4/13: Tales of surviving commutes

By Tom Sabulis

We’re seeking anecdotes from readers about the daily trials and tribulations of surviving the commute in metro Atlanta. Comment on this blog or email me at tsabulis@ajc.com. We will print the best of them in Tuesday’s newspaper. Here’s my own example:

The aplomb of some MARTA bus drivers continues to impress me. One day last week, a respectable-looking woman near the back door of the  No. 12 bus caught my attention. She was alone and not talking with anyone, yet she kept laughing loud and long — delightfully, really — out of the blue.

I couldn’t tell why. She didn’t seem drunk or medicated. I couldn’t see if she had a Bluetooth or earplug for some audio device; maybe she was listening to David Sedaris or Bill Cosby? I don’t know.

I tried not to stare and went back to reading my own book. A moment later, she ferociously cleared her throat and excavated what must have been a deep and large reservoir of phlegm. And instantly went silent. At that point, everyone on …

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4/13: Libraries address dwindling funds

It’s not difficult to see why urban library visits have risen dramatically in the recent economy, as government funding tightened. Systems such as Atlanta-Fulton County fulfill a shadow mandate that goes beyond lending books into fields of education, health and personal finance. Yet usage on a per-capita basis remains lower than at other city systems.

Larry Eichel, project director of the Philadelphia Research Initiative at The Pew Charitable Trusts, writes about a study that looked at Alanta-Fulton County Library, among those in other cities. And John F. Szabo, director of the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System, discusses how the system had addressed problems and provided key services.

When did you last visit?

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4/12: ‘Stand your ground’ laws

Moderated by Rick Badie

Shoot. Don’t retreat.

“Stand your ground” laws in Georgia and other states allow people to use deadly force if they believe their lives are in danger.

Supporters say such self-defense statutes empower potential victims to protect themselves.

Opponents deem them bad policies that grant people a license to kill. Today’s guest columnists weigh in.

What do you think?

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4/11: Student loan debt

Moderated by Rick Badie

Americans’ outstanding student loan debt stands at $1 trillion, higher than credit cards and car loans. Today’s page is devoted to the issue, said by some to be the next financial crisis. The president of the Georgia Student Finance Commission offers tips on borrowing for college. An Atlanta attorney explains how federal bankruptcy law views student loan debt.

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4/10: Is it July 31 yet?

Moderated by Tom Sabulis

Is it July 31 yet? The date of the metrowide referendum on the transportation special purpose local option sales tax can’t get here fast enough.

That goes for those in support of the project, which would bring $6.1 billion in traffic and transit improvements, and those opposed, who say the project list is misguided and/or inadequate.

What do you think?

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4/9: Giving voice to teachers

Moderated by Maureen Downey

A voice often missing or ignored in education discussions in Georgia is that of our teachers. Today, we give teachers the floor.

A Georgia teacher who taught in the Middle East shares her experiences, good and bad, while a UGA education professor talks about the pressures on classroom teachers from irrational policies that impose one-size-fits-all requirements.

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