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Opinion Editorial

For the past 30 years, I have served as an educator in the Macon County School System. It has always been and remains to this day a rewarding profession. Over the past several years however, that profession and public schools in general have been subjected to some very daunting challenges. One of the most disturbing trends that I have witnessed in recent years is the significant reduction in number of adults available to work directly with students in our elementary classrooms. Ten years ago there were enough assistants to provide full time help for students in grades K-3 and to provide part time help in grades 4-6. We have reached a point now where we do not even have enough to cover all of our kindergarten and first grade classrooms. The beautiful new Iotla Valley Elementary School where I currently serve as principal has fewer classroom assistants now than the old Iotla school had five years ago, and that school had less than half of our current enrollment.


I am a fracking agnostic. Fracking as in “hydraulic fracturing” and agnostic in the sense that I haven't studied much about this hot-button topic and have no strong feelings either way on the merits of the actual technique.

All right, to the Bat Cave of knowledge I go. According to Merriam-Webster online, fracking is “the injection of fluid into shale beds at high pressure in order to free up petroleum resources such as oil or natural gas.” I have a hunch that the “fluid” and “high pressure” part of the definition might be what many folks have an issue with.

Sure, 99% plus of the fluid is water (with sand added) but it's the other stuff added to the water that makes the fracking chemical cocktail of interest. Most of those chemicals fail to pass my computer's spell check such as carboxymethylhydroxypropyl. Even though I have no idea what it is, I'm sure carbo-whatever is perfectly safe when used as directed. In all fairness, I had some chocolate-covered snack donuts for breakfast the other day and there are a bunch of unpronounceable ingredients on the label as well. Maybe there is fracking going on in my belly.


Former member of the U.S. House weighs in.

Like other federal scandals before it, the mess involving VA hospitals has followed a well-trod path. First comes the revelation of misdoing. Then comes the reaction: a shocked public, an administration on the defensive, grandstanding members of Congress. Finally, major reform bills get introduced, debated, then put aside when the heat dies down, or the target agency gets more money thrown at the problem.

With the VA, we’re at the reform part of the cycle. The House and Senate have each passed their own legislation to fix the VA’s health system, including a massive infusion of money — at least $50 billion a year — to allow veterans to seek private health care. Fiscal watchdogs are crying foul, and the measures have ignited a furious debate over whether Congress should cut other programs. In its rush to address public outrage, Congress is proposing dramatic changes that could have benefited from more thorough consideration.


Recently, Seattle passed a law making their city's minimum wage $15 an hour. On an annual basis, that matches the starting pay of a North Carolina school teacher. The Seattle city council voted unanimously for the wage legislation that will be phased in over a period of three to seven years, depending on the employer's size. The rate is also pegged to inflation, with automatic adjustments. "With inaction at the state and national levels, it's time for cities to demonstrate bold and necessary leadership to address income inequality," commented one of Seattle’s councilmen.

The federal minimum wage was born during the Great Depression as a wage floor with the rate set at 25 cents an hour or roughly $4 an hour in today's money. The push now is to transform the minimum wage to a standard or “living” wage that will, in theory, achieve “income equality.”

The shift in terminology from minimum wage to “living wage” is ingenious. How could anyone deny someone a living wage? That's like denying them life itself, isn't it? Who wants minimum, it's an inferior thing. Greece's $5 an hour or Mexico's $5 a day are for folks who don't know what living is.


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