Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The results came in Monday on Georgia's state testing for students, and some of the numbers were not good. A large number of sixth-graders failed the math test - such a large number that if I tried to add it up, I might get the total wrong and set a bad example.

This year's C.R.C.T. exams showed 62 percent of Georgia's sixth-graders passed the math exam. Optimists would say the glass is still more than half-full. But pessimists would be looking at that slow leak bubbling from the bottom.

If the math results are not bad enough, the C.R.C.T. report also shows more than one-third of Georgia's sixth-graders and seventh-graders failed the science test. Maybe now the judges will allow warning labels about evolution on those textbooks....

A news release from the Georgia Department of Education called the results "the beginning of a new era for Georgia's public schools." I suppose it could be - if it means State School Superintendent Kathy Cox gets voted out of office.

The news release explained the "new era" by saying about half the C.R.C.T. tests this year used an old curriculum, while about half used a new and "more rigorous" test. Be forewarned - next school year, things may be tough all over.

Not all the news was depressing on the C.R.C.T. report. More than 80 percent of students in grades 1-8 passed the new and tougher reading test. If they hadn't, I can guess what would have been coming next - a news ticker on the Cartoon Network.

Georgia School Superintendent Kathy Cox says districts need to focus more on middle-school math and science. For instance, stare carefully at the fire from those Bunsen burners, before you use the extinguishers....

If Monday's report might help anyone politically, it's that OTHER Cathy Cox - the one who's running for Governor and making education her top issue. Since she bills herself as a Sunday School teacher, perhaps she can teach children there how to count to 12 apostles and Ten Commandments.

I haven't seen a local breakdown on the C.R.C.T. tests, but Rigdon Road Elementary School reports all its students passed the exam for the second year in a row. Last year that meant trips to Disney World and bicycles. This year - well, there's always that new Ben & Jerry's.

But really: Rigdon Road held a mock Academy Award ceremony for the students last week, to celebrate everyone passing the C.R.C.T.'s. There was a red carpet for them outside - but I don't know if there were expensive gift bags inside, offering certificates for a day at the spa.

Hours after the report came out, the Muscogee County School Board approved a preliminary budget Monday night for next fiscal year. It's up by about $25 million - which makes you wonder which gas station provides the diesel fuel for those buses.

School officials say utility costs are part of the reason for a bigger budget. But another reason is the new state requirement to reduce class sizes. It could mean adding 20 portable classrooms, hiring 40 new teachers -- and if all else fails, they might open the old Sears building for an assembly.

Muscogee County Superintendent "Papa John" Phillips told WRBL the state of Georgia shouldn't be ordering smaller classes without providing the money for them. So in this case, less costs more - which could qualify Starbucks to become a partner in education.

E-MAIL UPDATE: Speaking of math problems, "IsOurCitySafe" is following the city budget debate:

The councilors have known about the problem with pay compression, low pay, and low benefits for years. There have been lawsuits about it. Now they sure have a mess to fix. It's a shame when you have to embarrass people into doing their job and what's right. I really don't even think they are embarrassed, I just think they are trying to save their jobs during the election. I guess that's politics for ya!


Brent Rollins

And for so many years, I thought "pay compression" meant squeezing all your spending money into your wallet on payday.

The Columbus Council holds a public forum on the proposed city budget today. Now, now - let's not have all the law officers show up at once....

Another Columbus Council budget forum Monday brought a vote to add $2.4 million to the pay section. I'm not sure what part of the budget lost money for this. If you see jail inmates running the Zamboni at Cottonmouths games next winter, I guess we'll know.

Fraternal Order of Police President Randy Robertson suggested all available Columbus Councilors "lock themselves in a room until they have an agreement" on the budget. Now hold on a minute! First of all, I think Brent Rollins would oppose backroom politics -- not to mention the Open Meetings Law violation.

Now for other bits and pieces from Jefferson Davis Day in Alabama (for some reason, the Phenix City Post Office was open):

+ Tests taken in Atlanta showed the white powdery substance found on the second floor of the Government Center last week was NOT harmful. I hope the lab technicians enjoyed putting it on their lemon bars....

+ Uptown Columbus Inc. held the first in a series of public forums on the future of downtown. One concern was that limits should be placed on the loudness of music. I can see George del Gobbo now, telling the Columbus Symphony to watch an audio meter.

+ A billboard posted in downtown Phenix City announced the new Summit Hospital will open in August. Russell County men can avoid seeing the doctor for two more months - as if they weren't going to do this already....

+ Georgia beat Florida State 2-1 to win its NCAA regional baseball tournament. Georgia, Georgia Tech and Alabama all advance to this weekend's Super Regionals. Yeah, but how many Catholic colleges are left?

+ Instant Message to Georgia Lieutenant Governor candidate Greg Hecht: Let's see if I have this straight. You have a plan to fight high gas prices - and it involves my signing an online petition?! Do you realize those online campaigns to boycott Exxon haven't worked?!

COMING WEDNESDAY: Maybe not the best Alabama Primary coverage, but we'll try for the funniest....

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