Thursday, July 27, 2006

Did you know some high schools have marble floors?

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit a high school in north Dekalb County, and it was an eye opening experience. While I was impressed with what I saw, I couldn't help but think about the fact that not everyone in Georgia has it so nice. I don't begrudge those teachers and students for having such quality facilities and amentities at their disposal. The truth is, I wish that every student could be so lucky.

When I drove up, I immediately noticed the big columns on the front facade. And upon stepping inside the foyer's marbled floors, I could tell that this was no ordinary high school by Georgia's standards. From brand new computers for student use to a "senior's only" cafeteria to the largest scoreboard I've seen a high school football stadium have, this school's definitely operating on a different budget than most.

I know of public school campuses in south Georgia and north Georgia that will never have marble floors or special cafeterias for seniors. Some are slow to fix leaky roofs or replace dangerously cracked window panes because of budget issues. And the limited amount of computers those schools have aren't brand new. Heck, I'm sure there are schools in other parts of Dekalb Co. that probably face the same issues.

Now I know that property taxes in some areas are going to generate more revenue and resources for some school systems that others just won't ever enjoy. And I know that good teachers and bright students do exist in all of Georgia's schools regardless of appearances. But the inequities in education funding and budgets available to many schools out there just doesn't seem right.

A lack of marble floors and huge scoreboards does not prevent kids from being educated. But some kids in Georgia attend schools that don't even have enough text books to go around in all of its classes. The truth is, the mere act of attending a public school is a much better and more fruitful experience in some places than it is in others. And that can have a direct impact on how successful a school system is at turning out kids that are either college ready or prepared to enter the work force.

I know I keep harping on this. But we have 51 rural school districts suing the state of Georgia because they're being underfunded. Thanks to Gov. Perdue and his unfunded mandates and budget cuts, those school systems are suffering even worse. Perhaps one day Georgians will tie that with the fact that Gov. Perdue's adminstration has been filled with missed opportunities to lure high paying jobs in big industry to Georgia, due to concerns about the education levels of our work force.

Again, I'm happy for the folks that can enjoy such a wonder public school campus. I just want school children in places like Summerville, Elberton, Homerville, and Cusseta to have the same chances. And if more kids in places like those do get a fair chance, maybe one day we'll see a more progressive Georgia.

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