Since I am the former superintendent of the Jefferson City Schools, you'll probably not be surprised to learn that I read the Mainstreet Newspapers site each week to keep up with what is going on in that part of the state.
As a result, I am a regular reader of your columns and those of my friend, Mike Buffington. And, since my current job as executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association provides me virtually unlimited "opportunities" to be around politics and politicians, I am always intrigued by others' insights on that part of our world.
Thus, I read with some interest your take on the upcoming race for governor (June 16 edition) and your assessment that Roy Barnes is a likely winner. I couldn't agree more with your take on the last eight years; we can't stand more of this!
I only hope that our next governor, be it Roy Barnes or another candidate, will be a supporter of public education rather than another who gives it lip service while starving it financially and introducing or supporting legislation to undermine it!
All that said, though, my real reason for this email is to address a statement that you made in your column, the one where you said: "The lottery has pumped millions and millions into our education system yet most local school systems are now saying they have no funds."
I'd like to use this platform to make sure that you know (as you will find that most people don't) that no local school system has gotten a dime of lottery funds since 2003 (Sonny Perdue's first year as Governor.)
Prior to that time, a portion of lottery funds that were not used for HOPE or pre-K purposes were sent to local school systems, mostly to pay for technology hardware. There was even a brief period of time when the exceptional growth category of the state's school capital outlay program was paid for with lottery funds. But, once the family income cap for HOPE eligibility was removed, and more students became HOPE-eligible, the lottery funds began to be completely dedicated to HOPE and pre-K, and no lottery funds currently go to K-12 education (in spite of it being billed as a "lottery for education"). In fact, Governor Perdue even pushed a few years ago (unsuccessfully) for an amendment to the Georgia Constitution which would have completely removed even the possibility of lottery funds ever again being spent for K-12 technology (It was craftily named the "HOPE Protection Amendment," and apparently its purpose was to protect its proceeds from those evil local school systems!). I find that citizens are amazed when they learn this, and I thought I'd pass it along to you.
Thanks for giving me this opportunity to write.
Herbert W. Garrett
I, for one, am completely grateful the HOPE is paying for my college education. I guess everyone wants a piece of the pie. If the HOPE scholarship program isn't education, I don't know what is. I wonder if good ole' Herb here is one of those religious fanatics who is opposed to the lottery based on "principles", and is just using this "platform" to stop his feet and point fingers?