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The Monroe County Reporter
Forsyth, Georgia
June 13, 2018     The Monroe County Reporter
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June 13, 2018

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& EDITORIALS Declare among 4A the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not; Jeremiah 50:2 2016 a~l 2017 winner. Editorial Page excdlence ~C~,~A~ ~-,~ 2016 winne~ Sports Photography excellence 2016 winner: News Photography excellence 2016 wlnnen Fronl Page excelEence 2011 winner:. Best Humor Column- On lhe Parch ON THE PORCH by Will Davis The suicide epidemic hustle of May has given way to the slumber of June, when the kids are out of school, things are slower at work and Georgia newspaper publishers convene at Jekyll Island to reflect and scramble for inspiration. June is my thinking month. A neighbor and I the other day were sharing ideas at a kids' birthday party about themeaning - and sometimes futility - of success. The suicides of two very successful and famous people, Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, have a lot of people wondering whether there may be some deep- rooted darkness in our culture. When the most celebrated people in society would rather kill themselves than go on, something seems amiss. We've had our own sad spate of suicides here in Monroe County in recent years -- a physician and school board chairman, a successful banker and lawyer, and a former hospital administrator. The incidents leave me asking the same question: What in the world is the matter? All of these local suicides, and the famous ones last week, were people nearing their golden years. Perhaps they feel like life, and the many successes they had enjoyed, were slipping away, or worse, that those successes didn't mean that much anyway. Money and trophies cannot solve the problem of our own emptiness and mortality. This is all speculation of course, but we have it on pretty good author- ity that depression and despair are not new problems. Three thousand years ago, King Solomon tried doing a lot of things to be happy. First he tried wisdom, seeking to study and understand the human condition. ""I observed everything going on under the sun, and really; it is all meaningless--like chasing the wind" sighed Solomon in the Book of Ecclesiastes. "The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow." Next he tried pleasure -- big homes and gardens with singers and women to entertain him. "But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to" 'accom- plish, it was all so meaningless-- like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere." And then Solomon proves that, despite the evolutionist's claims, human nature hasn't changed in thousands ofyears. "Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless--like chasing the wind" Being Americans, where the pursuit of happiness is enshrined in our founding document, it's kind of a downer when Solomon ends his Book of Ecdesiastes without providing any real answers to his depression. Where's the happy ending?!? I suffered my own bout of depression in college, floun- dering about for my purpose in life and not feeling very confident about my prospects for success. every book on depression, tried Prozak and counseling. My biggest problem, I think, in retrospect, was that in college I didn't have much faith in God, and I had too much free time to think about unhappy I was. Looking back, I think I made my biggest mistake by making happiness my goal. We all get old and die, if we're fortunate, and those don't exactly fit our modem definition ofhapp'mess. We're se ing ourselves up for failure. Whether we like it or not, God's goal for Christians is not happiness, but holiness. He wants us to enjoy life, but He created us to find Him as our greatest enjoyment. Solomon may have ended in despair, but hiS son David mopped up his father's mess when he writes in Psalm 37: "Take delight in the LORD, and he will give you the desires ofyour heart. Commit your wayto the LORD; trust in him and he will do this: He will make your righteous reward shinelike the dawn, your vindication like the noonday sun." Depression fs normal. Life is hard. My comfort is found in Jesus, and the friends and family He has given me as company for the journey. file Monrtm C~amty www. is published every week by The Monroe County Reporter Inc. Will Davis, President Robert M. Williams Jr Vice President Cheryl S. Williams, Secretary-Treasurer OUR STAFF Will Davis Trellis Grant Publisher/Editor Business Manager 0 s~ ~o . News Editor Community Editor Carolyn Martel Brandon Park Advertising Manager Creative Director Official Organ of Monroe County and the City of Forsyth 50 N. Jackson St. - Forsyth, GA 31029 Periodicals Postage Paid at Forsyth, GA 31029 POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: THE MONROE COUNTY REPORTER P.O. Box 795, Forsyth, GA 31029 SUBSCRIPTION RATE: In County:. $35 - Out of County:. $48 Single Copy: $1 Deadlines noon on Friday ~or to issue. Comments featured on opinion pages are the creation of the writers, the do not necessadly ~flect the 0pinions 0fThe Reporter management. Publication No. USPS 997-840 PEACH STATE POLITICS by Kyte Wingfietd on't fall for the sweet sounds suddenly being cooed about Georgia's teacher pension fund. Over the past two years, lawmak- ers had to add about $589 million to shore up the Teachers Retire- ment System, or TRS. But next year, when lawmakers set the fiscal 2020 budget, officials say taxpayers will get a break an increase of"only" $25 million. To consider that much of an improvement is wrong-headed in at least two ways. First, it's not as if those previous in- creases disappeared. They have been baked into the TRS cake: Taxpayers will still pay that $589 million, plus the $25 million being added. Or as The Atlanta Journal-Con- stitution noted this week, "The state and school systems will put about $2 billion into the pension system in fiscal 2019. State and local contri- butions were closer to $1 billion in 2012:' So the proper way to think about what taxpayers spend on pensions isn't that it will rise by "only" $25 million in the budget lawmakers pass next year. It's that this spend- ing will be about $400 million more than it was two years prior, about $600 million more than three years prior, about $700 million more than five years prior, and about $900 mil- lion more than eight years prior. The cumulative total of all those extra payments since 2012: more than $2.5 billion. When Georgians wonder why there hasn't been more money for health care or roads or tax cuts - or, for that matter, teacher salaries - that's the answer. But that's only half of the reason the rosy scenario is wrong. The second reason is found in this other nugget from the AJC story: "The system has about 74 percent of its pension liability covered, down from about 84 percent in 2014. Pension experts typically prefer to see the ratio above 80 percent, and (officials expect) the TRS to get back up to 81 percent in five years." This is an appalling level of performance given that we have been enjoying a long eco- nomic expansion and bull market for equities. While a funding ratio of 80 percent is acceptable, the figure should be well above that when the econom r and markets are rising. TRS's funding ratio was nearly 107 percent in 2001, according to a recent analysis the Georgia Public Policy Foundation published in conjunction with the Reason Foun- dation. E4en after the tech bubble burst, TRS's funding ratio remained above 90 percent through 2007. The Great Recession took a big bite out of TRS, as it did to many investors. But forTRS's funding ratio not only to remain below 80 percent but to have fallen during the rela- JUST THE WAY IT IS by Sloan OIiver 1 W.lWfehen you think back on on-family members o influenced your ,who comes to mind? For most of us there are some coaches, a few ministers, several boss- es, your drill sergeant (for those who were in the military), and a couple of teachers. Teachers have a huge impact on our lives largely because we're young and spend an entire year with them. It's evident that a good teacher loves the'n, profession and loves their children. They realize the huge impact they have on children and only want what's best for then" kids. All of us had teachers whom we fondly remember. They encouraged us, they pushed us to be better, they showed us a good work ethic, they gave us love and dis- cipline, but they didn't coddle us. YEARS AGO, teachers were pillars in a community. They were well re- spected - by the children, by the par- ents, and by the commtmity. Teachers were in charge and everyone knew it. If you misbehaved, the teacher imme- diately disciplined you and sent you to the principal for more discipline. And the school discipline almost always consisted of a paddling and after school detention. Then, you'd be sent home with a note that insured your parents would discipline you as well. You dared not talk back to your teacher because he/she was an adult, and the adult "mafid' stuck together. Regardless of the issue, you could count on every parent to side with the teacher. Parents didn't want to hear your sniveling. "The teacher said that you misbehaved; so, you misbehaved. Get ready for your spanking and if you act up again, it'll be worse next time" That was the attitude of every parent for everyone who is 50 years or older. That's not the case today. I OFTEN wonder, given today's leftist "group think" education environment, who in their right mind would go into teaching. In far too many classrooms, the children are in charge and they know it. The kids know that the teacher has very little authority and can do very little e to discipline them. Often times, the children bully the teacher by threaten- ing the teacher, constantly challenging the teacher, cussing the teacher, and siccing their parent on the teacher. Children cuss and bully a teacher tively strong years of late should be a bright-red warning light. A big part of the problem is the system's flawed assumption about the rate of return it Hill earn on its assets. Since 2003, the assumed rate of return has been 7.5 percent; the actual rate has been less than 7 percent. And that's not likely to improve: The Founda- tion's analysis found the long-range forecasts by firms such as BNY Mellon and IP Morgan show a more likely rate of return over the next 10-15 years is 6 percent for the type of assets in which TRS invests. If those forecasts prove correct, and if TRS makes no changes, ,--- taxpayers would need 4 to inject an additional $12.3 billion into the system between now and 2036. And you thought the $2.5 billion added since 2012 was bad. So, no, all is not well with teacher pensions just because taxpayers' cost is temporarily rising less quickly. Georgia's ability to continue keeping the promises it has made to current and retired teachers requires action now. ,Kyle Wingfield, president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Founda- tion, writes a column that runs in newspapers across Georgia. and the teacher can do little except take it because the kids know that mostparents will side with them over their teacher. Children know that if a teacher so much as touches them, the teacher can be brought up on charges - and often is. CONSIDER THE case of Jessica Stevens, a former teacher at Heritage Elementary School in Bibb County. Stevens is a former teacher because she was arrested for disciplining one of her children. She is accused of grab- bing a 10-year-old student, dragging him from his desk, and yelling at him. When the child got home, he told his parents who called police. The boy's mother took pictures of the "small bruises in lines on his wrist that appeared to have been caused by a tight grip" The mother told the police that she was "dis- gusted" by the teacher's alleged actions. The police then viewed the school's security camera and wrote, "Mrs. Stevens walks over to where (the boy) is sitting and stoops over him appearing to lecture him As she walks away (the boy) purposefully knocks a lunch bag off of the table he had been sitting at that happened to contain some glass objects that broke on the ground. Mrs. Stevens then aggressively walks back over to (the boy), grabs his arm, and pulls him out of his chair onto the floor and begins dragging him with his chair attached to his foot :' For her actions, Stevens was arrested and charged with simple battery. As I read the report, a bratty little kid was acting up, the teacher disciplined him, at which point the kid threw a tantnun caus g the teacher to grab him to talk him to the principal. EDUCATORS (teachers and principals) tell us that, by age 10, they can pick out the children who Hill have discipline problems for the rest of their lives. At a young age, these disruptive children have indicators of acting up, talking back, ha ng a complete disregard for author- ity, cussing out others, being overly aggressive, constantly fightin& and generally misbehaving. So, how does a child become such a brat by the fourth grade? Certainly not by themselves, at home they're taught how to misbe- have and how to disrespect authority by bratty parents who are exactly like the tiny tyrants they raise. Will anyone be surprised if this disruptive 10-year-old becomes a gang banger by age 14, a school drop out by age 15, and arrested as an adult by age 17? I certainly won't. STUDIES SHOW that children who are raised in homes with conflict, with little discipline, with families not functioning "properly" and with in- adequate supervision are likely to be- come delinquent. A proper function- ing family is defined as both parents at home with little conflict and free of~ violence. So, at home, the child is a tyrant and the parents then expect the school system and teach- ers to do what they have refused to do - which is discipline the little brat. Georgia is one of 19 states that allow corporal punishment, why isn't it used more often? I don't understand why school systems allow little brats to rule the dassroom. GETTING BACK to Mrs. Stevens, I give her (and all teachers) credit for choosing a profession in which she has a positive impact on future generations. Mrs. Stevens was doing her best to keep discipline in her classroom, good for her. Unfortunately, she resigned her teaching position at Heritage Elemen- tary and with her resignation, Bibb County losses a caring teacher with 10 years' experience thus signaling to future teachers that the children are in charge and leftist school districts (like Bibb County) do not have your back. Perhaps a Monroe County school has a place for a caring teacher, like Jessica Stevens, who doesn't take gufffrom snotty little kids. Weekly Quote: "It's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." - Frederick Douglass Sloan Oliver is a retired Army officer. He lives in Bolingbroke with his wife Sandra. Email him at sloanoliver@