Fayette School Board is paying a premium for ‘Core’ brand

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The more things change, the more they stay the same when it comes to the Fayette County School Board.

I read with interest that the school board now has a balanced budget with a surplus (some call it reserve, I call it surplus) of $11.5 million.

I think I also saw that the board, by a vote of 4-1, has approved spending $1.6 million for those Common Core math books. More about the books later.

But let me note right here that the one vote against those math books came from board member Mary Kay Bacallao. She only has 20 years of professional educational experience, and seems to be the only one voting with any degree of logic and reason.

But back to the budget.

When the board was closing four schools earlier this year, it was almost like the gang of four (again Ms. Bacallao voted to keep the schools open) was on the street with tin cups in hand asking for quarters to keep the school system alive. In fact, may I present you with the 2013 “Gold Tin Cup of the Year” Award for your votes to close the schools.

With your new budget, it’s like telling the taxpayers that the broken car you brought us has been fixed, the engine is running smooth as silk, but we had to take two tires (Tyrone and Brooks schools) off to get it going. When you drive the car, don’t mind the sparks flying about from the muffler dragging a bit. It will wear down eventually and you won’t notice a thing.

And a few more words about those hocus-pocus math books. School Board, you are paying big money for a simple brand, Common Core, that’s all. You don’t have a clue about how good these books are.

Some mid-level teachers say they are great, others in the know say they aren’t much good. We do know these books are being pushed down on Fayette County from above and that’s enough for me to say, watch out.

For the million and a half you are spending, you could hire some full-time, math Ph.D.s to rotate through the system giving the students some of the best math instruction in the nation. Or spend the money on first-class math tapes that could easily be shown to the students each day, followed up with in class instruction.

I would be happy to smuggle some $1.50 slide rules into your classrooms for a little more real support for the students. However, I might get arrested and put on bread and water in the county jail.

I would not be surprised to see the school book lobby get a county law passed soon to outlaw the slide rule, a simple tool used by learned mathematicians some years ago who came up with stuff like the A-bomb and the U.S. mission to the moon.

On the school closings, I would shut up about this matter if someone on the board can tell me you made a formal effort to get additional funding for these schools from the governor’s office or the state school superintendent.

I’m not happy since my granddaughter had one more year at Tyrone Elementary. But I will be happy to apologize if you can prove you did this. I’m not holding my breath for a reply.

James Hightower
Tyrone, Ga.