Here we go again.
A little more than a week ago, I pointed out that state Rep. Ben Harbin of Evans was concerned that Gov. Sonny Perdue had once again left the money for elementary foreign language out of his budget.
Now, the Atlanta paper has picked up the story. It was a little more direct in characterizing the omission as a "cut."
Either way, the money isn't in Perdue's budget, and it's up to Harbin to again ride to the rescue.
As chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, Harbin rides a pretty big horse and wears a big hat. So when he says he'll put the money back in the budget - just $1.6 million for the entire state - that's good enough for me.
The maddening part is that Harbin has to ride to the rescue again at all.
If you recall, the elementary foreign language program was debated last year (again), with Perdue threatening to kill it and state School Superintendent Kathy Cox just going along with whatever Perdue wanted. Harbin rescued it then, and the state board of education ordered schools to re-apply for the grant.
That includes Stevens Creek Elementary, where my wife is principal. (I should add that I supported the elementary foreign language program long before she was at Stevens Creek.) Any school in the state could have applied, but because the program requires significant local money and a lot of effort, only the schools already operating the programs re-applied.
But here's the kicker: The money was awarded last year as the first year of a three-year grant. The budget is planning for just year two, and already the governor is trying to renege.
This program, the staff who operate it and the kids who learn from it are too important to be kicked around like this every year. The question is who will give up first: The governor who wants to strangle it, or the representative who keeps having to save it?
Harbin won't give up. But he's got more important things to worry about than watching his back for the governor's budget knife.
The whole "fairness" baloney - some schools have it, some don't - is what keeps this issue roiling. But it's about time the state recognizes that elementary foreign language deserves support in those schools willing to fight for it.
After all: We keep throwing money at poverty programs in schools without any success. What's wrong with supporting a program that actually works?
It was sad to hear this weekend about the untimely death of former Augusta Mayor Charles DeVaney.
DeVaney was a good mayor at a tough time. He came into the office during the crisis over the federal corruption arrest of then-mayor Ed McIntyre, and left office during the identity crisis in which the consolidated city-county government was created.
In between, he was exactly the kind of person Columbia County would want as mayor of the neighboring city: positive, hopeful and dynamic - a lot like Deke Copenhaver.
DeVaney also was a good ex-mayor, continuing his community service as a booster of downtown, and lately as executive director of the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation.
Men like DeVaney don't come along often. And we do too little to appreciate them while they're here.
Get well, judge
One person we don't appreciate enough is Judge Duncan Wheale, whose efforts were responsible for serious and long-overdue reforms in Augusta's court system.
Wheale won that fight, but now he has what might be an even tougher one: He's battling what he calls "a very aggressive" form of prostate cancer.
He has great doctors and a good attitude, but would appreciate continued prayers for his recovery.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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