In an email published by the LaGrange Daily News on Feb. 10, 2012, Troup County School Board hopeful Dariel Daniel encouraged other school board challengers to focus on the negative. In his email Daniel stated, “As you know, the more negative things people read about TCSS the better off we are. It will also be a chance to get your name out.” Ironically, Mr. Daniel’s wish for a focus on the negative has come full circle.
As a former teacher and administrator for the LaGrange and Troup County school systems for the past 29 years, I would like to commend Sheila Rowe and our present and former members of the Troup County Board of Education for their support of our students, our teachers and our administrators.
I would like to offer a positive word of support and appreciation for their leadership in what I consider to be three of the most important areas of school system administration.
First and foremost is their support of the efforts of system and school administrators to provide students and school personnel with a safe and secure learning and work environment. Despite allegations of “unsafe” schools by several BOE challengers, schools in Troup County are as safe as any schools, public or private, and much safer than most public places we frequent on a daily basis. In many cases students are safer at school than they are in their own neighborhoods.
Critics base their unsafe school assumption on discipline data reports that include the number of disciplinary referrals addressed by administrators in each school. Unfortunately, disruptive behavior in the classroom is nothing new. However, any attempt to connect disciplinary referrals to school safety is unfounded.
Disciplinary referrals are an indication that teachers are identifying disruptive behavior and are following protocol in having it addressed by school administrators. Administrative handling of disciplinary issues according to protocol ensures that disruptive behavior is addressed properly.
Discipline data from schools in the TCSS are indicators that proper discipline is expected and the discipline behavior code is being enforced. Discipline issues will always be part of the school setting. When data suggests the contrary, I will be the first to question what a school is doing or “not doing” to address the issue.
I would encourage anyone, including those seeking a school board position to visit our schools and see first-hand the orderly environment maintained on a daily basis.
Secondly, I would like to congratulate Mrs. Rowe and the TCSS BOE for their leadership of a school system that has experienced tremendous success in improving student academic achievement since the inception of the Federal No Child Left Behind Legislation in 2002. Even in light of massive reductions in both federal and state education funding, TCSS can boast unprecedented student achievement as measured by standardized assessments including the CRCT, The Georgia High School Graduation Tests, State End-of Course Tests, Advanced Placement exams and others.
Please do not be deceived by twisting and misrepresentation of information. Students attending Troup County schools are afforded a quality educational experience and have access to high levels of academic rigor. TCSS students are very successful in post-secondary endeavors including college, technical school, military and work force.
Yes, there is certainly room for improvement in the graduation rate. Much time, energy, sweat and, yes, money is being poured into that initiative. Unfortunately, we have students who do not understand the value of an education and are not willing to take advantage of the opportunities afforded them.
The continued increase in the graduation rate in the TCSS is evidence of the tremendous work being done by school personnel to instill in our students the value of obtaining a high school education and beyond. Our school board is to be commended for its commitment to the support of this encouragement especially through the funding of our graduation coaches in both middle and high schools.
School systems are also being held accountable for students who do not finish school for reasons that are far beyond the influence of school personnel. Graduation rates are based on the number of students who complete a prescribed high school curriculum in four years.
Those identified as drop-outs include students who need a little more time to complete that curriculum and even those who miss valuable school time due to major illnesses and other circumstances such as incarceration. It is difficult to hold teachers, administrators, superintendents and school board members accountable for students who do not graduate on time because of reasons beyond their control.
Regardless of the formula used for calculation, the graduation rate in the Troup County School System and overall student academic success continues to improve. On a personal note, and as the former principal of LaGrange High School, I offer you the following example of academic excellence by TCSS students. The LHS Class of 2012 posted the following first-time testing pass rate on the Georgia High School Graduation Tests:
Social studies: 93 percent
English / language arts: 96 percent
Math: 96 percent
Science: 99 percent
Writing: 99 percent
The class of 2012 was the sixth LHS graduating class in a row to outscore the state of Georgia in all areas of the GHSGT.
While these scores are not 100 percent as dictated by the 2002 NCLB legislation, they are certainly far from “mediocre!” as some would like the citizens of Troup County to believe.
Finally, I would like to congratulate Mrs. Rowe and the TCSS BOE for their leadership with the successful management of the maintenance and operations budget over the last five or so years. A review of the TCSS M&O budget reveals a 2012 budget that is within a few thousand dollars of the 2007 budget.
While I am amazed by the fact that anyone’s M&O budget remained relatively constant in a five-year period of time, I am even more amazed that this accomplishment was made during a time when fuel and energy cost were at an all-time high and during a period when considerable facility additions were made within the system. I wonder how many businesses or industries can boast that type of M& O budget management success.
I wonder how many individuals can boast that type of house-hold M&O success. I wish I could!
I will be the first to admit that our school system is not perfect. There is always room for improvement and doing things more efficiently. Fortunately, my years as a school administrator included a BOE comprised of individuals of integrity and honesty. They supported our students, our parents, our teachers, our support personnel, and very importantly, our school administrators.
The Troup County School System is recognized across the state as being one of the best. That is because we have good students and good parents. It is because we have dedicated teachers and school administrators. It is because we have dedicated support personnel. It is because we have dedicated board members who are serving our community for the right reasons.
At a recent BOE forum held at West Georgia Technical College, Mr. Daniel stated that this school board election was the most important political event of the century. For the students, teachers, administrators and support personnel in the Troup County School System. I must agree.
Your vote for Sheila Rowe in the run-off election on Tuesday will ensure the continued academic success of Troup County students in a safe and conducive learning environment. It will also ensure the continued wise management of taxpayer money dedicated to the most important investment in our future – the education of our children!
Steven C. Cole
106 View Pointe Drive
LaGrange, Georgia 30241
Former Teacher BWE
Former Teacher / Administrator HHE
Former Teacher / Administrator SSE
Former Principal SSE
Former Administrator / Principal LHS