My storm couldn't ruin our vacation.
This past week, the family hopped down to Hilton Head Island for a few days. The weather was phenomenal until Friday, when Tropical Depression Barry - I'm sure they named it after me - brought a downpour.
An African proverb says "They pray for rain and curse the mud," but I didn't curse a drop. I hoped it would cool the south Georgia wildfires, and it did.
The real vacation damper came in a veto from Gov. Sonny Perdue.
As everyone knows, my wife is principal of Stevens Creek Elementary School. For the second year in a row, she also has been named one of Georgia's High Performance Principals because her students outperformed other pupils in their demographic.
The High Performance program is a Perdue brainchild, and comes with a $15,000 bonus to principals who agree to go to a struggling school. Thus far, just two principals in the entire state have taken the bait.
My wife isn't one of them. She's perfectly happy where she is, though she refuses to take credit for the students' achievements. She attributes some of their success to a program she inherited when she became the school's principal: Elementary foreign language.
I became an avid supporter of the program years before my wife's arrival at the school, so it was nice knowing that she landed at a campus where I'd already established supportive "roots." My youngest daughter also participated in the program from kindergarten through fifth grade.
But if your child is starting kindergarten at Stevens Creek next year, or going to a higher grade there, their chances of likewise learning a foreign language are in danger. They are collateral damage of a vindictive governor's veto pen.
See, last week, while we were sinking our toes in the sand, word came that Perdue had deep-sixed several items in the state budget. Not coincidentally, most of the cuts were to items placed in the budget by state House leaders who stood up to Perdue during the recent legislative session - including state Rep. Ben Harbin, whose district includes Stevens Creek.
We've heard the wailing about Perdue's veto of funding for the Georgia Golf Hall of Fame. But where is the outcry at the cut to money that has produced a world-class program in foreign language education?
All schools that just last year won what they were told was the first year of a three-year grant are now being told the money is gone at year two. And Perdue didn't even have the guts to just kill the wimpy $1.6 million appropriation and claim fiscal principle; instead, he's redirecting the money to every elementary school in the state. Each will get $1,200 for foreign-language books. Yippee.
Perdue's veto came after most schools were out for the summer, and after systems - including Columbia County's - had set their budgets for next year. With Stevens Creek facing the loss of its $120,000 grant, four teachers are now in limbo, and 900 children could lose a dynamic educational program. All so Sonny can show the House what a big man he is.
But wait; there's more. To add insult to injury, and really show off Sonny's brazen chutzpah, a spokesman from the governor's office called Stevens Creek first thing Monday morning. To talk about the foreign-language cut, right?
Of course not! She wanted to know if the governor could land his helicopter on the school's soccer field when he flies in for the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce breakfast next week at Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
What a great idea! And I think Stevens Creek should charge a helicopter-parking fee. About $120,000 ought to be enough.
Barry L. Paschal is publisher of The Columbia County News-Times. E-mail comments to barry.paschal at newstimesonline.com.
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