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Proms and prigs, and missing the point / May 02, 2013
I shouldn’t go riding sometimes.

I think too much when I’m on the bike.

But anyhoo, here goes:

The News & Record has a couple of comments on our website about the Halifax County High School prom story/photos (Monday 4/29 edition), griping and moaning about the state of affairs today and how the prom has become an abomination and what kind of parents are these who let their kids do these things and support them in their prom-ish actions.

My question to them … and they posted anonymously ... is, “Is it hurting you?”

Is it your money, your child, your prom?

Were any laws broken? Was any blood shed? Was anyone, other than your limited sensibilities, offended?

I have always tried to live and let live, although sometimes I find it difficult. I don’t tolerate stupid and although I try to avoid it, it sometimes finds me.

But I never question another’s parental skills/duties. I know how difficult it is and I know kids need to blow off steam. Heck, I need to blow off steam.

Our “posters” also want to know why the school system didn’t force the kids to move back towards a more traditional prom. Leave, with their date — alone, without parents — go to the prom and then stay out all night.

Okaaaay. That makes sense to me.

They want to know why Halifax had this kind of “mess” for lack of a better term, while other schools are more traditional.

My response to that is “so what?”

There are way too many cookie-cutter schools, turning out too many cookie-cutter students, who become cookie-cutter adults.

There is way too much “box thinking” going on already. Let them think outside the box, to cliché this diatribe a bit.

Let them use their imagination, revel in their uniqueness, show the world, or at least their little corner of it, that we are different.

They will remember what “strange” vehicle was used to arrive long after they have forgotten who was King or Queen.

I have done nearly every graduation at HCHS since I arrived here in 1983. I can’t tell you a single word of a single commencement address, but I can tell you that I remember the barefoot girl giving her speech.

If we wanted the same, we would go to other schools.

These “kids” are our future, whether you like it or not, just as “I” was the future way too many years ago.

I feel a lot better knowing we can turn out free-thinking free spirits, who aren’t afraid to push the envelope.

I will support my boys’ dreams, no matter how silly, or ridiculous, I may think they are. I’ve always danced to a different tune. Who am I to pick their tune?

I like living in Halifax County. I would like to live here the rest of my life. I could find nothing finer than to have my boys move back here, but if they don’t, I understand. There is nothing for them to move back here for.

And thus we come to the meat of my epistle: the schools.

We have excellent, yet underpaid teachers in our schools. We are at risk of losing our best teachers because we can’t pay them, or even give them a cost of living increase because of the spitting contest between the trustees and the supervisors.

The supes are always pointing out how they fund more than they are required to by law, but it ain’t much.

Everybody talks about waste in the school system, but no one does anything about it.

I would prefer paying the best and brightest of our teachers well, knowing that although they are required to “teach to the test,” they are also able to teach beyond that. Push the student to reach the pinnacle of his ability.

If our present course continues, we are going to end up with a school system of test teachers. I find this unacceptable.

I want my boys pushed. I want them to do the best they can and I want the teachers that are going to push them to be their best.

I’m not a parent who blames the teacher for a child’s poor grades. I want to know what can be done to make them reach his potential.

I don’t believe in rewards for expected behavior/work either. You are expected to earn good grades. I’m not paying you to do what is expected.

We heard from the previous school administration that schools are the economic driver that attracts new industry. This was the selling point for the new schools.

We hear from the IDA that schools are what new industry asks about when making a decision.

Although I am a supporter of elected school boards over appointed, I have learned over the years that elected trustees are essentially emasculated because they can make promises when the campaign, but without taxing authority, they can’t always fulfill their promises.

They are still beholden to the supes for whatever funds the supes feel obligated to trickle down.

I’m tired of education being low on the General Assembly’s priorities.

Watching the shower of education funding washing down on the Northern Crescent, while we have to make do with what trickles.

Instead, we should take responsibility for our schools. Fund them so we can have the best.

Hence, and I apologize, a modest proposal.

The supes should continue their “minimum” funding so they can continue to tell their electorate they are doing all they can.

But also, for the extra funding the trustees are constantly harping on that they need to maintain and improve the school, the supes implement a county sales tax with that funding obligated yearly to go to the school system as their “above and beyond” funding.

I would be willing to pay two or three cents on my county purchases if I knew it was going to the schools.

And this is where the fun begins.

The trustees don’t get a free ride.

They claim good schools are economic drivers: Prove it.

Improve the schools with this money. Hire the best teachers, improve the schools, improve the scores, improve the quality of the graduates. Give the IDA a selling point that they can use to attract the new industry that will bring our college graduates back.

That “boost” will increase their funding annually.

If they fail, we lose industry, we lose jobs, they lose funding.

They know what they are going to get. They budget accordingly. They don’t go begging on bended knee for money the supes aren’t going to give.

And use the money to prove they can improve the school system.

If the trustees throw it away on the central office, vote them out. It is our school board, they are our schools, they are our children. Make them work for us.

Don’t tell me why this won’t work. Instead give me a better alternative.

On the other side, if the supes start swiping the school money, vote them out also.

Sales tax is pennies every transaction. You would not notice it, as opposed to a property tax increase where you have to lump sum it.

If it can’t be done by law, tell me why you can’t ask our illustrious delegate to put in legislation next winter allowing us to do it.

Let us show the state we aren’t the armpit. Let us show the Northern Crescent we are as good as they are.

Stop griping and moaning, get off your butt and make a difference.

I now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.

David Conner II is the News & Record’s photographer and webmaster.

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