Sylvia Cooper

City Ink columnist and correspondent for The Augusta Chronicle.

Screening language draws red flags

  • Follow City Ink

A lot of folks in Augusta got all up in the air about the $13,858 Lucy C. Laney High "team building" retreat at the Ritz-Carlton at Lake Oconee last week, but they just don't understand. They needed that.

It's not every day a failing school such as Laney becomes a reform school. There's a lot of hard work and stress involved, even if you do have $1.16 million from the federal government to finance the endeavor. Everybody's been under pressure -- especially half of last year's teaching staff who had to be moved out to other schools or put out to pasture because that was one of the strings attached to the free money from the Obama administration.

But the real pressure has been on the "turnaround leader" and the panel of central office staff who screened existing faculty and teacher candidates for employment, measuring their "competencies for success."

There were four groups of competencies, which were defined by a few "individual characteristics." Candidates who didn't measure up were put into the "red flag zone."

One of the competencies was "driving for results," with the characteristics being "achievement, initiative and persistence, planning ahead, monitoring and directiveness."

"Achievement" and "initiative" are fairly easy to spot. You have achieved if you have the initiative to get out of bed and go to work in the morning. If you do it every day, you have the characteristic of "persistence." I don't know how the panel measured that or the characteristic of "planning ahead," but if you're a teacher and don't plan ahead, you're going to be late paying the rent when they furlough you this year after the school system runs out of money.

"Planning ahead" is not really a characteristic anyway. It's like "driving for results," which isn't really a competency because if you're driving you're in the process of doing something. You might be driving, but you're not there yet.

Then there are the characteristics of "monitoring and directiveness." Directiveness?

Some people think the team-building trip to the Ritz-Carlton was a waste of money and would like to put the ones who planned it in the red flag zone, but I think whoever made "directiveness" part of the screening process ought to go there and stay.

IS THIS JUST ANOTHER CHRONIC NUISANCE? Augusta is on the verge of having a Neighborhood Task Force to deal with crime, blight and everything in between in neighborhoods.

The subcommittee that was appointed to study a chronic nuisance property ordinance several months ago opted for a resolution to create a three-member task force last week. If approved by Augusta Commission members, the task force will consist of one member each from the Richmond County Sheriff's Office, the Marshal's Office and the city's License and Inspection Department.

Of course, nobody knows where to find the money to hire three new people.

When asked how much it would cost to hire and equip a new code-enforcement officer, License Director Rob Sherman said, "For our office it's going to be around $70,000," which bolstered subcommittee member Cliff Channell 's contention that the task force would be a "duplication" of people already in place to do the job.

The task force would deal with chronic neighborhood issues that are not resolved in the normal code and law enforcement processes. These include any criminal conduct occurring on a property, including but not limited to stalking, harassment, failure to disperse, disorderly conduct, assault, any domestic violence crimes, reckless endangerment, prostitution, patronizing a prostitute, public disturbance noises, lewd conduct, any firearms/dangerous weapons violations, drug-related loitering, any dangerous animal violations, any drug-related activity, any violation or suspected violation of any state or municipal code or ordinance.

Yes, indeedy, they'll deal with all that in Augusta's neighborhoods -- them and Sherman's army.

SMOOTHING OUT CAMPAIGN WRINKLES: Mayoral candidate Lori Davis got a $500 donation to her campaign from her friend Pam Spens , who held a microdermabrasion fundraiser on Davis' behalf.

"She offered to do it and give me all the money," Davis said. "I got 10 women down there for $50 a treatment. We drank champagne and had a lot of fun. That's a true, in-kind, grass-roots donation."

NO SURPRISES HERE: During a Columbia County school board discussion Tuesday concerning changing the word "sex" to "gender" in school policies, Chairwoman Regina Buccafusco gave a red-faced admission.

"My husband and I used to have that argument, about whether it should be sex or gender," she said. "I always preferred gender. He wanted sex."

SAY AAAHHH: Augusta Commissioner Don Grantham emphatically denies ever saying he wants to be on the Georgia Board of Regents just because during a Pride and Progress meeting he asked gubernatorial candidate Nathan Deal whether he would appoint somebody from the Augusta area if elected.

The fact that Augusta has no representation on the board is troubling to many people, especially now that there will be a medical school at the University of Georgia in Athens. Grantham said he asked the question because it comes up repeatedly among elected officials concerned that the Medical College of Georgia will shrink as the Athens school grows, especially if Gov. Sonny Perdue and UGA President Michael Adams have anything to do with it.

My Deep Throat at MCG, who knows everything there is to know, said it is a grave concern because MCG's clinical faculty has decreased through the years as administrators and bureaucrats with outrageously high salaries have increased, all to the detriment of morale and retention of star researchers and professors.

Deep Throat said he's been favorably impressed with new MCG president, Dr. Ricardo Azziz , and believes he's very capable but that he doesn't understand the magnitude of the problem.

Azziz spoke to the Augusta Kiwanis Club recently, and he, like so many other brilliant people, makes a good talk. Also like so many other brilliant people, he can answer a ticklish question without really answering it or saying anything controversial. For example, when asked about the Athens expansion, he talked about two other career stops and about "making a bigger pie" instead of worrying how the pie is sliced.

"THEY JUST LOOK AT YOU LIKE YOU'VE LOST YOUR MIND, SAY THEY HAVEN'T SEEN A THING": Last week, we told you about Bernard Clark from Waynesboro, who says his wife's diamond ring was stolen from a bedroom of their home by workers from the CSRA EOA Weatherization program and that the law wouldn't do anything about it. Well, they still haven't, though an investigator told Clark he would try to get the GBI on the case. But Clark's not giving up.

He e-mailed this week and said, "If nothing happens, this week, I'll start over. Because we can't forget the security they took from us."

City Ink thanks Columbia County News-Times Staff Writer Donnie Fetter for his contribution to this week's column.

Reach Sylvia Cooper at (706) 506-8875 or sylvia.cooper7@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (19) Add comment
ADVISORY: Users are solely responsible for opinions they post here and for following agreed-upon rules of civility. Posts and comments do not reflect the views of this site. Posts and comments are automatically checked for inappropriate language, but readers might find some comments offensive or inaccurate. If you believe a comment violates our rules, click the "Flag as offensive" link below the comment.
Dixieman
21001
Points
Dixieman 07/31/10 - 11:31 pm
0
0
Wonder how private schools do

Wonder how private schools do this so much better without spending nearly as much...

Asitisinaug
4
Points
Asitisinaug 08/01/10 - 04:15 am
0
0
If you want to know what

If you want to know what teachers need to be at Laney and how they can reach their students as well as how students need to be diciplined the ASK THE STUDENTS. Take the successful Juniors, Seniors and if possible a couple who are graduates and doing well in college at this time. They know better than anyone the looser teachers, the ones who gave up or don't care. They know what it takes to reach the students and they also know and most would say that strong, fair and firm discipline no matter who the student is will greatly enhance the learning environment and remove the trouble makers who are reaching more students than the teachers are. You can have all the committes and great educational leaders you want but the students are far smarter than they are ever given credit for and if you would simply listen to them or at the very least, have their input on the committes, you will learn a lot and set the school up for potential success. However, be forwarned, when you ask them be prepared for answers that include the fact that many teachers don't care or have given up, the administrators don't back up the teachers, discipline to include everything from tardiness to classroom behavior is a joke and those who are trying to learn want those issues addressed and changed. All students deserve the right to a proper education in a safe environment with no disruptions to the educational environment and that is certainly not happening in most Richmond County High Schools, to include Laney. As for the money being spent on anything other than improving education directly at the school level, it is absolutely ridiculous. This is a great waste of tax dollars and shows just how the Obama Administration is breaking America through ridiculous spending.

bone1
0
Points
bone1 08/01/10 - 06:09 am
0
0
private schools can boot

private schools can boot non-performing students (davidson and a.r. johnson can, too); removing the waste products from a batch of learners improves quality.

Brad Owens
5223
Points
Brad Owens 08/01/10 - 06:30 am
0
0
Laney already gets more funds

Laney already gets more funds per student than other schools yet they cannot seem to make things work. Laney got a REALLY nice football stadium and I remember that school board member Jeff Annis was slammed for pointing out that the money would not help improve learning.

Well, look at the money this way. If the Fed dollars are going to be spent anyway, spent here is better than not spent here.

The truth is, you can spend as much on Laney as we did on the TEE and it will produce about the same amount of usefulness to our community. The problem is not just on the teaching side. I mean how do you motivate a kid who doesn't value education because they have no parents who do? Parents are the problem here, not so much funding.

Brad

jb1234
0
Points
jb1234 08/01/10 - 07:18 am
0
0
Dixie, private schools cost a

Dixie, private schools cost a lot more money (usually) to attend than public schools, so the majority of the students in attendance are there to learn, not because they have to be. A normal parent isn't going to spend huge amounts of money to send their kid to private school if they're just going to flunk out, they'll send them to a public school. Back when I was in private school, I think I might have made 2 bad grades on tests the entire 6 years I was there, that's because I knew what would happen when my mom found out that I was 'wasting her hard earned money' by making bad grades.

You could also turn that around on the parents too...the parents who are involved and concerned with ensuring that their children are going to get good educations are going to be more likely to take the plunge and send their kids to private school over a public one. The folks who are only sending their kids to school just because they have to are more-often-than-not going to throw 'em on the bus to a public school.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/01/10 - 07:42 am
0
0
I wonder how much Mr. Clark

I wonder how much Mr. Clark paid for the CSRA EOA to weatherize his house? What is their number and where are they located? I am sure everyone (taxpayers) in Augusta are available for the same service.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 08/01/10 - 07:43 am
0
0
BTW is Waynesboro in the

BTW is Waynesboro in the CSRA?

Dixieman
21001
Points
Dixieman 08/01/10 - 08:21 am
0
0
Government schools = child

Government schools = child abuse. Take a second job, take out a second mortgage on your house, or do whatever it takes to get your kids out of the cesspool that is our public school system. And, yes, this includes Columbia County.

Little Lamb
53157
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/10 - 08:31 am
0
0
Yes, Disssman, Burke County

Yes, Disssman, Burke County is part of the CSRA. But your point is well taken - - the value of the diamond ring is less than the cost of the free service he received.

Little Lamb
53157
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/10 - 04:44 pm
0
0
Inside Job — If the Richmond

Inside Job — If the Richmond County sheriff's department is not interested in pursuing recovery of the $25,000 in taxpayer money taken from an open safe in the tax commissioner's office, then the Waynesboro police will not be interested in recovering the ring. To the police, it doesn't mean a thing. Remember the song:

Who wants to fi - i - ind
This diamond ri - i - i - ing?
They took it off my vanity.
It doesn't mean a thi - i - i - ing.

Little Lamb
53157
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/10 - 08:59 am
0
0
So Sylvia reports that Dandy

So Sylvia reports that Dandy Don Grantham asked Nathan Deal whether he would appoint someone from Augusta to the Board of Regents if he is elected governor. Too bad she didn't report Deal's long-winded, open-ended non-answer.

Riverman1
111395
Points
Riverman1 08/01/10 - 09:16 am
0
0
It's refreshing to see the

It's refreshing to see the horrendous results of the tenure of Daniel Rahn at MCG finally being revealed.

Just Another Day
0
Points
Just Another Day 08/01/10 - 09:24 am
0
0
LITTLE LAMB is obssesed with

LITTLE LAMB is obssesed with this 25,000 theft.....geez get a grip.

Riverman1
111395
Points
Riverman1 08/01/10 - 09:48 am
0
0
Well, I think the theft of

Well, I think the theft of $25,000 of county money is pretty important, too. It's taxpayers' money and the THEFT should have been investigated thoroughly until it was solved. I can't see how it would have been that difficult. The problem is politics got involved and law enforcement backed away. Thanks, LL, for reminding us.

Junket831
0
Points
Junket831 08/01/10 - 10:15 am
0
0
Other than the obvious, that

Other than the obvious, that Mr. Clark should have secured any valuables, keys, etc. at all times , but particularly during times workers are in the house. Did law enforcement at least interview suspects and try to get finger prints where the ring was kept? If they did then it would be difficult to say nothing is being done. But if law enforcement did not take those simple steps, then shame on them. Theft is theft.

Little Lamb
53157
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/10 - 04:09 pm
0
0
You're welcome. At the very

You're welcome. At the very least The Augusta Chronicle or Scott Hudson of WGAC should periodically ask the sheriff how the investigation is going. And the news media should report when the sheriff finally declares the theft a cold case and drops it.

Little Lamb
53157
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/10 - 04:16 pm
0
0
This Diamond Ring — Sylvia

This Diamond Ring — Sylvia Cooper wrote:

. . . though an investigator told Clark he would try to get the GBI on the case.

The GBI? Give me a break. Why would the GBI take on a simple case of petty theft? It's time for Mr. Clark to look at things Disssman's way. The ring was fair exchange for the weatherizing.

Come to think of it, we should start demanding that those with little money at least contribute something of value from their homes when they receive government services like weatherization, meals on wheels, medical treatment, food stamps, WIC, etc.

Little Lamb
53157
Points
Little Lamb 08/01/10 - 04:41 pm
0
0
They came into my bedroom

They came into my bedroom now,
It was the E O Cee - e - e - eee.
They caulked my bedroom window then
My ring ceased to bee - e - e - eee.

This diamond ring doesn't shine for me anymore, and
My diamond ring will soon be in an old pawn store.
So please don't trust the EOC like I - i - i did.
Things disappear behi - ind it.

corgimom
46795
Points
corgimom 08/02/10 - 01:37 pm
0
0
LL, now comes the bridge with

LL, now comes the bridge with the Hammond organ music....

My diamond ring needs the fab-u-lous GBI,
And if I don't get that, well, I'm gonna cry-y-y
So if you've lost
Something you love
It's true, don't let them work for you.

Gary Lewis, we NEED YOU! It's a sure-fire hit! Number One with a bullet! (Well, in Augusta maybe that's not quite the thing to say.)

Back to Top
loading...
Top headlines

Raises vary widely for GRU administrators

While there has been an overall 6 percent increase in administrative pay at Georgia Regents University since it was created by consolidation, raises and promotions have caused vastly different ...
Search Augusta jobs