Archive for the ‘Leadership’ Category

States vs. Unions

Moderated by Rick Badie

Last month, workers at the Volkswagen Chattanooga assembly plant voted 712 to 626 to not join the United Auto Workers; the UAW has appealed the union election results. Today’s guest writers weigh the economic pros and cons of union representation in the South, particularly in right-to-work states like Georgia and Tennessee.

Workers reject union’s pitch

By Mark Mix

At Volkswagen’s Chattanooga auto plant, the United Auto Workers won’t take no for an answer. Despite losing a recent unionization election, union officials are challenging the results. More noteworthy still is their opposition to the efforts of several VW employees, represented by National Right to Work Foundation staff attorneys, to intervene in the legal proceedings to defend their decision not to unionize.

The UAW’s legal challenge isn’t surprising. It’s just the latest example of Big Labor’s new approach to organizing. Union officials have increasingly turned to coercive and …

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If campaign against academic standards wins, kids lose.

In beseeching the Georgia House Education Committee to reject a bill that would undo the Common Core State Standards here, Lee County High School teacher Coni Grebel  pleaded, “I have now tasted rigor. Please do not send me back to mediocrity.”
If the General Assembly adopts Senate Bill 167, it will not only send Grebel, a former Lee County Teacher of the Year, back to mediocrity, it will tether Georgia children to a second-rate education, devalue their high school degrees in the eyes of top colleges and affirm perceptions of this state as an academic wasteland.
Not only does the sweeping bill essentially eviscerate Common Core, it mandates that Georgia stand alone in deciding what its students ought to learn and not borrow from other high-achieving states that banded together to create better standards. And we could not test our students in any way that would tell us how they compare to their peers elsewhere, even though they’ll compete against them for college slots …

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National standards will benefit our kids

By Otha Thornton

As a resident, native Georgian and president of the National PTA, which represents more than 74 million children, I firmly believe it is critical that Georgia gets the Common Core decision right if we plan on being a state of excellence in the educational arena as the nation moves forward.
Several years ago, the National Governors Association looked at the lackluster performance of American schools compared to other nations. The governors, including former Gov. Sonny Perdue, determined that individual states must adopt higher standards in order to give children a level playing field in today’s fiercely competitive world.
The Common Core State Standards are internationally benchmarked to ensure that our children can compete with any child in the world. The standards raise the bar for Georgia’s children — so we can expect to see some struggles during the process.
One of my favorite quotes attributed to Dr. Benjamin Mays, former president of Morehouse …

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Let Georgians decide our students’ fate

By Mike Krolak

Common Core is the latest in knee-jerk reactions to “fix” education.
This offshoot of No Child Left Behind should be outed as what it truly is, an end run around the U.S. Constitution. The current Georgia Senate Bill 167 is a valiant effort to have Georgia students evaluated by Georgia educators on Georgia-designed standards.
Common Core was developed by the nation’s governors who wanted to adopt national standards. There are several problems with this. One problem is what is important in Montana may not be important to students or educators here in Georgia.
As a social studies teacher, I want to ensure Georgia students know about Georgia history and not a skimmed-over U.S. history that leaves out Georgia.
Common Core also passed along more testing. With the current state of testing — with eighth grade missing up to 20 to 30 days of school due to some type of testing — this equates to a month or more taken out of learning to administer a test.
Given …

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Prisoner Re-entry

Moderated by Rick Badie

Jobs are scarce, but likely even scarcer for those formerly incarcerated. Employers often balk at such hires; prisoners generally lack skills to land jobs with decent pay. Today, a director for the Urban Institute looks at their re-entry to the workplace through the lens of Georgia and elsewhere. I write about a DeKalb County nonprofit that hopes to teach “hard-to-place” individuals the art of auto detailing.

Pathway to jobs can be tricky

By Nancy G. La Vigne

In 2013, more than 21,000 prisoners re-entered society from Georgia’s Department of Corrections. What can we do to ensure a smooth transition? How do we lower their odds of reoffending?

Jobs are a huge part of the answer. We know from research that former prisoners with jobs are less likely to go back to prison.

Many of these men and women are not strangers to the workforce. They held down jobs before they were incarcerated. They actively want and seek legal employment. It’s in everyone’s …

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Sunshine still an effective disinfectant

A smattering of bills now before the Georgia General Assembly, if passed into law as now written, would cast a heavy, dark cloak over government processes that, with rare exception, should be open to public examination.
Such a drawing of blinds around the people’s business should not occur this year – or ever. It’s now up to right-thinking Georgians to keep that from happening. Citizens who value freedom and intuitively recognize the unacceptable downside of government routinely conducting too much business outside of public scrutiny should make their voices heard — before inappropriate measures move any closer to fruition.
Americans are taught — or should be — to appreciate the concept of transparent governance. This is not a dreamy-eyed ideal. It is, and should remain, a primary pillar of our free society.
It’s not an easy principle to achieve. Safeguarding competing interests is tough work. As in finding an appropriate, workable equilibrium between, say, an …

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The man who said no to injustice

Earlier this month, members of the Asian-American community gathered at the state Capitol with Gov. Nathan Deal and other officials to observe Fred Korematsu Day — for the man who refused to obey military orders to turn himself in for internment as a Japanese-American during World War II. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld his criminal conviction; one writer notes that the decision is dangerous because it still stands. Another details how Korematsu ultimately was vindicated, and the lessons his case teaches us about civil rights and justice. Korematsu’s daughter tells how her late father made a difference.

A dangerous ruling still stands

By Adam Liptak

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court’s 1944 decision in Korematsu v. U.S. was a disaster.
Justice Antonin Scalia has ranked Korematsu alongside Dred Scott, the 1857 decision that black slaves were property and not citizens, as among the court’s most shameful blunders. Justice Stephen G. Breyer has written that it has lost all …

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Civil forfeiture: There’s a better way to do it

There’s an old saying among lawmakers that perfection should not be the enemy of the good. That adage squarely applies to Georgia House Bill 1, which offers significant improvements to the state’s current, too-weak laws concerning civil forfeiture.
Georgia needs a stronger law because the existing statutes covering seizure of assets believed linked to criminal activity do not provide for fair, effective oversight and administration of the forfeiture process.
HB 1 as now written is not all-encompassing in its offered improvements, but it represents a solid step forward. That’s likely the best that can be achieved during this hurried, election-year legislative session. Lawmakers anxious to resume campaigning can’t be counted on to achieve perfection this year. Thus, the good, and not the perfect, will have to do for now.
The bill was passed out of House committee this month. It should be quickly approved by the full House and sent on to the state Senate.
Questionable …

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Forfeiture bill improves accountability

By Wendell Willard

Civil forfeiture is the power of law enforcement to seize property believed to be connected with criminal activity and acquire it for law enforcement use through a forfeiture proceeding. Georgia’s current civil forfeiture procedures have come under fire in recent years, sparking a desire for reform.
Critics allege that current laws create a profit incentive for seizing agencies, potentially distorting law enforcement priorities and shifting focus to revenue generation and away from other activities. Civil forfeiture provisions are currently spread throughout the Georgia code and encompass 14 different procedures, which alone calls for creation of one consolidated and standardized procedure. While law enforcement agencies are presently required by law to file an annual report with the state detailing their forfeiture seizures and expenditures, there exists ambiguity on who is expected to do the reporting, the level of detail required to be reported, and …

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Georgia sheriffs speak on forfeiture bill

From a Jan. 24 letter to State Rep. Wendell Willard by Ben Hill County Sheriff Bobby McLemore, president of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association: It is on behalf of the members of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association that I respectfully advise you of our opposition to the substitute to House Bill 1 … .
We feel the substitute to House Bill 1 properly addresses the issues of burden of proof, discretion of appropriate use of condemned assets by sheriffs and chiefs and the threshold amount for quasi-administrative forfeitures. We are grateful for these compromises, but have serious concerns with the nature and extent of newly added procedural requirements which will unnecessarily complicate our existing constitutional process of condemning assets seized through criminal activity. Surely, these newly required procedures can only create additional burdens for our Clerks of Superior Court and District Attorneys whose offices remain understaffed. We furthermore believe the imposition of …

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