February 1, 2014

Columnist Dick Yarbrough to speak here Tuesday

Misty Watson

— In recent years, with numerous changes in education and the way it has been funded in the state, many parents and school officials have become frustrated. One group hopes to inspire people who are unhappy to get involved in bringing about positive change.

“We want to get the community involved and realize that no matter who you are, you can make a difference,” said Martha Thomason, a teacher at Westwood Elementary School who is a member of the Advocates of Dalton Challenge Program. “Don’t complain at the Green Spot or the ball fields if you’re not involved.”

To help encourage individuals or businesses to get involved in making a difference in the lives of others, group members are hosting columnist Dick Yarbrough on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Dalton High School. Yarbrough’s column appears in The Daily Citizen.

The talk is called “You Can Make a Difference.” The event is free and open to the public.

Thomason said the event is not just geared toward Dalton Public Schools. Budget cuts and concerns with Common Core standards apply to all school districts across the state.

Yarbrough said his talk will focus on two aspects: public education and making a difference.

 “I’m a hawk on public education and doing the right thing for public education,” he said. “You can make a difference. You just have to want to. ... Why are we making a difference? If it’s for self-interest and personal interest, that’s not what making a difference is all about. This is making a difference for the greater good of our state and our community.”

Yarbrough said he is concerned about the level of apathy in today’s society.

“We get the kind of government we deserve because we don’t care,” he said. “Half of us don’t vote. Part of it is just staying engaged in a democratic society. There are more places in the world where you can’t do this without fear of losing your freedom than places you can.”

It doesn’t matter if people agree, as long as they’re involved in the process, Yarbrough said.

“I get fussed at in my column by people who disagree with me,” he said. “I write back to people that that’s terrific because we live in a place where we can have different opinions.”

Yarbrough said he will speak, but he also plans to answer questions.

“You don’t have to change the world,” he said. “But you can change a piece of it and make it better.”

Yarbrough said much of his mail comes from readers in Whitfield County, and he looks forward to meeting the residents here.