Monday is Labor Day, an almost tongue-in-cheek holiday in which we celebrate work by taking a day off.
The irony also extends to a couple of Atlanta lawmakers. Bowing to a few disgruntled parents who want a "traditional" school year -- one that, some believe, shouldn't begin until after the Labor Day holiday -- state Reps. Mark Burkhalter and Joe Wilkinson say they plan to introduce a bill next year to "encourage" a uniform start date for school systems in Georgia.
The incredible part about this is that Burkhalter and Wilkinson are both Republicans, and should know better. Since they apparently don't, fellow Republican Kathy Cox, the state school superintendent, spells it out for them: "There is no 'one-size-fits-all' approach to improving education," Cox says in response to the lawmakers' announcement. Cox adds that such mandates violate the idea of local control.
Didn't these guys learn anything at all from the reign of Gov. "King Roy" Barnes? Good grief; Georgia is still struggling with the top-down, one-size-fits-all nature of Barnes' education "reforms" that Republicans fought so hard to block, and which many Republicans in the past session worked to fix. The last thing the state needs is a couple of lawmakers trying to micromanage the school calendar.
In their limited defense, Burkhalter and Wilkinson say their proposal will only "clarify" state law that already makes it OK for the first semester in the 180-day year to be shorter than the second -- which would allow classes to start later in the summer, but still end before Christmas.
But such "clarification" is just the first step to a statewide mandated start date, which Cox to her credit adamantly opposes. Last weekend in Columbia County, Cox reiterated her objection to a state-set school calendar. Good thing; the Atlanta schools that sparked this nonsense started their year Aug. 9; Columbia County schools started nearly a week earlier, which ought to really set Burkhalter and Wilkinson off.
And "off" is where we all ought to be this Labor Day: resting up from work, and just as importantly, taking time off after the first progress report period of school -- on a calendar set up the way our local community wants it, without "help" from Atlanta.
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