Righting what’s wrong means making changes

op frWe are now — officially — barreling into the holidays. Thanksgiving is already a fading, drowsy memory of turkey carcasses and piles of dirty dishes. As we march onward toward Christmas and the new year, my mind always goes into the same pattern, one I can’t shake: I think of blessings and shortcomings, wondering why the things that aren’t right can’t be righted. 

And so a couple of recent articles about opportunity in this country and how those who come from wealth are more likely than ever in recent history to remain in the upper income brackets hit home. In order to change this, we need to do more for children, especially those who haven’t reached what we have traditionally deemed “school age.”

Education changes, woes discussed at forum

fr maconschoolsWhat was billed to be a town hall style education forum for the Macon County School System, filled with parents and teachers, was held at an almost empty Franklin High School auditorium. But, that didn’t stop the passionate message being addressed by those onstage and in the crowd. 

Legislators pass judgement on the poorest among us

op frI am writing this in my classroom on a Friday evening in the hours of quiet before the kickoff for our homecoming ball game. My students are all gone for the weekend, but it is still early enough that my classroom remains lit by the clear autumn sunshine. I look out at 28 desks that hold the adult sized bodies of the 63 students I teach in senior English: 24 in first period, 25 in fourth period, and 14 in AP English Literature. In my first- and fourth-period classes, the place is pretty packed when everyone is present, so I am grateful I do not as of yet have the full allotment of 29 students that N.C. law allows. My county is fighting hard to keep class size within reason and to maintain teaching staff, although current legislation is telling us that staff reduction is only a matter of time.

The face of the shutdown: Local childcare centers teetering as shutdown interrupts funding

coverAll Nicole Smith could do last week was try to keep the doors open.

Either the shutdown of the federal government would end, or North Carolina officials would tell her they don’t have the million of dollars necessary to cover childcare costs for needy infants and toddlers in the state, some of whom spend their days at her small center in Waynesville.

Lawmakers in denial about plight of poor

By Dawn Gilchrist-Young

Of the 120 or so 12th-graders I teach each year, about two-thirds have jobs outside of school. Of those two-thirds, there is a large number who work 30 to 40 hours a week. Their jobs range from bagging groceries and stocking shelves, to cleaning motel rooms, to chopping, splitting, and delivering firewood. As I included in my first column about the teaching I do at Swain County High School, the per capita income in 2011 was $19,506. For 2012, the projected income was $19,089. Of the county’s 14,000 residents, 3,000 live below the poverty level, and of those, almost 1,000 are children, including my students. For most readers, these are merely numbers, but for me, as a teacher, they are numbers that have faces.

Macon Schools may cut teacher bonuses to save positions

To deal with a gaping budget shortfall, Macon County Schools might raid the local salary bonus it historically awards its teachers. 

WCU weighs merits of majors in light of funding challenges

Western Carolina University will erase 10 degree programs, including women’s studies and the graduate music courses, from its books during the next few years.

From more inmates to more foster kids, drug abuse hits Haywood in the wallet

Illegal drug abuse and its repercussions are costing Haywood County taxpayers.

An increase in drug use has led to more drug-related arrests. That means more inmates in the county jail, which it turn takes more jailers.

Even in tight times, libraries deserve priority funding

op frBy Doug Woodward • Guest Columnist

What entity in our community serves the needs of every one of our citizens, whether that person is 3 years old or has been around for 90 years? And what place is this which can offer the same level of service to the wealthy and disadvantaged alike? Some organizations or businesses can offer services to a small segment of our population, but only one — our Fontana Regional Library System — can claim to open its doors to everyone.

 

Many who aren’t familiar with our library may say, “Oh yeah, they lend out books and old movies.” That limited viewpoint usually means that the speaker hasn’t set foot in the library in recent years, and sometimes we even find a commissioner or state representative who falls into that category.

Jackson library supporters make last-ditch budget pitch

Jackson County commissioners were implored by library advocates this week to give the Sylva and Cashiers libraries a sizeable bump in their budget. 

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