DeKalb schools update: Now Dunwoody wants to secede

Not really a surprise, in the wake of the DeKalb County School System’s probationary status, but there are currently prohibitions against it.  See Maureen Downey’s Get Schooled Blog for more.

You might recall that last year, Dunwoody officials sought to tear down the city’s two low-income apratment complexes to make way for Little League fields, but the voters rejected the measure. Dunwoody voters also voted agains the SPLOST tax extension to fund improvements for DeKalb County schools. You can read about it here.

I’m running for NRA president

Update: I’m running for president of the NRA. I just announced my candidacy on Twitter.

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On the issue of gun control:

“Of course now is the time for this discussion — and if you can’t defend you position today then maybe your position isn’t as absolutely defensible as you might believe.” — Scott Paterno, Republican strategist, writing in Politico‘s The Arena.

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And how is the NRA responding to the tragedy in Newton, Connecticut? Like a pack of cowards. UPDATE: The NRA has spoken, saying they want to contribute to a solution. Until I hear it (and probably afterward), I’ll be very leery.

While we await their response, please read this thoughtful essay, “The Freedom of an Armed Society.”

From Slate:

On Dec. 14, the day an armed citizen killed 26 unarmed women and children at a Connecticut elementary school, the NRA’s Twitter account went silent. It has not tweeted since. Meanwhile, its Facebook page has disappeared, along with those 1.7 million “likes.” Navigating to www.facebook.com/nationalrifleassociation now redirects to the Facebook homepage.

Read more.

Obviously, the NRA’s leadership has failed. Change is called for. Time for a new direction for the NRA. I figure I’m the guy.

Now I know times are tough for the well-heeled, influential organization. They are absolutely beseiged. NBC News reported a small protest at NRA headquarters in Washington, D.C.  Then I heard local news anchor Brenda Wood say that the group’s Facebook and Twitter accounts had been shut down “due to death threats,” but I thought she was just making it up, since I hadn’t heard this tidbit anywhere else.

So I Googled NRA and death threats and saw several recent posts on the issue, all by right wing blogs and websites. As it turned out, it was all a rehash of a piece on Twitchy, reprinted on Powerline. It amounts to this: Some people showed their asses with some nasty Tweets.

Some of the tweets weren’t even decent death threats, just irate reactions from conservative victim fetishists. To wit, someone decided, based on a half dozen butthead tweets. that liberals want 4.3 million NRA members dead. (Are we seeing pre-revolutionary talk here?)

I don’t want to kill anybody, but I may not actually be a liberal. (I haven’t been tested.) Does voting for Obama automatically qualify me? After all, a lot of moderates can’t bring themselves to vote Republican any more, either, for reasons moderates and liberals understand.

But kill? Hell, no. I think we all ought to join the NRA! Members vote on policy and leaders, right? I’m already running for president.

It’s sad that America is so divided now that people ARE entitled to their own facts, after all. For example, look at this quote, posted by a pro-gun friend on facebook: “An unarmed man can only flee from evil, and evil is not overcome by fleeing from it.” — Col. Jeff Cooper

Uh. No. Many men have faced evil unarmed. I’ll take just about anything Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said over what Col. Cooper said.* The NRA folks are going to love the guests speakers I invite, don’t you think?

*Then again, to be fair to Col. Cooper, he made his living teaching people how to win gunfights.

Dr. King wasn’t fleeing evil when he died. He was standing on a balcony of a Memphis motel when he was gunned down from a distance by an assassin armed with a hunting rifle.

I thought of him—and of Gandhi—when I saw this picture nearly 25 years ago.  I don’t think it ended well for the student (no one knows what happened to him, really) but if you believe in something strongly enough, what a way to be remembered. His name: Tank man.

Then there’s my post on Hosea Williams’s 1987 marches in Forsyth County, Georgia.  So no, my friend, you don’t have to flee evil just because you’re not packing heat.

 

DeKalb schools are now on probation

In 2005, DeKalb County’s Lakeside High School was ranked by U.S. News and World Reports as Georgia’s best high school.

Now, the county’s school system has been put on probation by its accrediting agency. This is not especially surprising, since dysfunction has reigned for several years now.

The Atlanta Journal-Consitution reports:

In a scathing report, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accuses DeKalb officials of engaging in bickering and nepotism while letting district finances wither. Mark Elgart, president and chief executive officer of SACS parent company AdvancED, also said the district had allowed academic achievement to slip.

The decision by the accrediting agency could have wide-ranging effects on the local economy, observers say, from discouraging businesses from relocating to DeKalb to depressing housing values, which already have dropped precipitously.

The problems stem from a decade of “poor, ineffective governance” that has caused a decline in academic performance and pushed the nearly 100,000-student system to the financial brink, said Elgart. The district could finish the school year in a deficit should any unforeseen expense arise, he said during his morning announcement.

The next step, accreditation loss, is “imminent” if officials don’t respond appropriately, Elgart said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has more.

Incidentally, last night, Lakeside’s principal sent out this half-empty/half full meassage to the community:

Dear Parents, Students, and Lakeside Supporters,

The last ten days have presented our staff with some challenges. In six different instances, we have had student fights that resulted in the suspensions of the students fighting and for five students, their arrests.

In addition, we have had increased instances of thefts. These have also resulted in several suspensions and at least one arrest. Our School Resource Officer, our campus supervisors, our teachers and our administrators have been working together to bring a halt to these incidents and to bring definite consequences to the students responsible.

As frustrating and disappointing as these disruptions are, they pale in comparison to Friday’s tragedy in Connecticut. Still the heroism and positive responses that were demonstrated in that tragedy have been similarly evident at Lakeside. In several instances, students have intervened to quiet disagreements before they escalated. In at least two cases, students stepped in to protect a staff member or a student from being hurt. Other students have alerted staff members when they got wind of a forthcoming altercation. Students also have come forward to provide evidence that helped to resolve thefts and return stolen items to their rightful owners.

What has also been evident to me these past few days and throughout the school year are the caring attitudes I see evidenced by the overwhelming majority of students. Lost items are returned to the office or their rightful owners. Students on crutches or in wheelchairs get the assistance they need from other students. Dozens of students showed up on a recent Saturday morning to help clean our campus. Several students spent their own money for shirts and formed a spirit squad to bring some extra fun to our home basketball games and donations for local charities. Frequently I see students reaching out to others who seem alone or dispirited. All of these actions make me proud to know these students and to be associated with Lakeside High School.

I know that it is our nature to focus on the tragedies and the things that are wrong in our own lives, our schools, and our society. I hope, however, that at this special season of the year, each of us will also spend time looking for the good in one another. I wish each of you a joyous holiday season!

Joe P. Reed
Principal of Lakeside High School

Only 3% of U.S. families use college savings plans

Wow. The Government Accounting Office has just released the a study showing that only 3 percent of American families are using these accounts to save for their children’s college expenses. And participating families are disproportionately wealthy.  The GAO reports: “Families with these accounts had about 25 times the median financial assets of those without. They also had about 3 times the median income and the percentage who had college degrees was about twice as high as for families without 529 plans.”

No wonder the average recent college grad’s student loant debt is now nearly $25,000 and student debt in the naiton is larger than credit card debt. Families–including working high school students—should be participating in a college savings program, especially when contributions are tax-exempt. 

All states have some kind of plan. For Georgians,  TIAA-CREF runs the Path2College 529 plan.  Contributions of up to $2,000 per child are excempt from state income taxes–in Georgia, can amounts to a 6 percent return without even factoring in the earnings and tax savings over the life of the fund. You may also contribute while your child is in college.

If you have children and plan to send them to college, check it out.