Let's hope more people didn't miss these words of wisdom the other day.
Tucked inside a Morris News Service story about a state Board of Education forum was this quote from Columbia County's school superintendent, Tommy Price:
"I just have a problem when you have an isolated incident like this and you have a knee-jerk reaction, and overreaction, to what is, at this point in time, no real problem for the majority of the school systems," Price said.
The superintendent is referring to ideas gaining steam in Atlanta, both in the Legislature and the state board, to require students to get written permission from parents before signing up for school clubs.
While the idea of parental permission isn't a bad idea, the need to force it on systems from the top-down is symptomatic of many of the state's education problems. In this case, the idea arises from friction over one of those homosexual-friendly groups threatening to pop up in some of the state's more urban systems, where public schools and liberalism are closely intertwined.
And, sure, it's a little shortsighted to think these battles won't eventually happen here, and that some parents won't then become outraged to suddenly discover that their kids are involved in school activities they wouldn't condone - activities with no educational basis, most of which the schools should steer clear of in the first place.
More importantly, when the state board of education in a school system ranked 49th in the nation begins talking more about regulation of social clubs than test scores, and when the debate comes in the same week that standardized tests show a third of eighth-graders may not pass to high school next year, the public education system's focus has gotten way off track. Creating new state mandates for regulating social clubs won't help.
One parent pushing this statewide club rule says it's a way of "strengthening the tie between parents and schools." Columbia County has a better idea; its I-Parent program, being piloted in three schools, allows parents to keep close tabs on their children's grades by logging in to a Web site. That's the kind of oversight the state board and lawmakers should encourage.
Columbia County School Board members Tuesday will get a status report on I-Parent. The state board should pay more attention to academics and less to social issues; likewise, as the I-Parent pilot program expands to other schools, that's where parents, too, should focus their attention.
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