Thinking Right’s weekend free-for-all. Pick a topic:
● The state has a secondary role in public education — but a primary role in protecting the integrity of Georgia’s system of public education and in certifying quality of graduates, instruction and curriculum. State officials had no idea where the corruption was in an Atlanta system with 58 schools flagged for suspicious patterns of test-answer changes — and yet they deferred to the system to investigate. The findings are in. Only 12 schools had cancers; the rest were home-remedy or office-visit ailments, the school system appointed investigators say. So no further examination of asbestos or smoking is needed. Oh, yes, no bigwigs knew anything. And, henceforth, ease off on the pressure to raise performance standards. “Student achievement and measurable outcomes are critical,” said the panel’s chairman, “but that needs to be balanced by positive ethical behavior.” Which means: Find a test where students are comfortable and employees won’t cheat.
● The “superspeeder” effort to combine law enforcement with $24 million yearly in new revenues generates $2 million in its first year — prompting concerns from proposed beneficiaries (hospitals). Any lawman who would link enforcement and revenue needs or projections is in the wrong business. Linkage is corruption-bait.
● Nathan Deal was right the first time on the federal Race to the Top education spending program and on his concerns about the effort to develop national standards. The federal role in elementary and secondary education, creeping upward, should be virtually nil. It has no expertise — just the ability to print money, pander, reward union constituencies and play the games that gubernatorial candidates do when promising to fix or save public education. Deal first said he’d opt out of the federal program and then changed his mind and said he’d take the federal money if there weren’t too many strings attached. Whether attached now or later, they’re coming.
● Tell you the truth: I drive through South Georgia towns desperate for the loose change that falls from federal spending programs and am incensed that $762,372 in federal “stimulus” money goes to Georgia Tech to study improvised music or $23 million goes to upgrade border crossings in Montana, one across from a crossing that Canada is closing because it draws about five people a day.
● Illusions Shattered Department: My tenure as an Eddie Murphy fan ended when I saw his “Raw” routine on cable. It was — image-shattering raw. And now Sheriff Andy of Mayberry is taking public money to tout ObamaCare.
● No need to get exercised about the decision by a California judge to overturn the will of the state’s voters on the definition of marriage. It, like the challenges to ObamaCare and the Arizona crackdown on illegal immigration, will be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.
● Most incisive trash-the-property quote of the week comes from one of Newsweek magazine’s potential buyers, Fred Drasner, as quoted by thedailybeast.com. Said Drasner of the $1 paid for Newsweek by entrepreneur Sidney Harmon, husband of U.S. Rep. Jane Harmon (D-Calif.): “I think he paid a very full price.”
● Without question, the primary task facing the next governor is Georgia’s tax and spending structure. In addition to transportation, the state has some explosive entitlement costs looming. Public pensions, of course. Indigent defense. Statewide trauma centers. Health care. Meanwhile, tax revision looms too. Effort there should be to shift from income to consumption. Incentivize work.
● UGA’s not the No. 1 party school in the country. It’s Andrew College in Cuthbert. The evidence? None. Just pulled it out of thin air, as is often done to create Top 10 lists.