Opinion

July 15, 2012

Mayor David Pennington: A vote for education

Election Day is July 31 and early voting has begun.

Some important races involving excellent candidates will be decided. There are also two extremely important referendums on the ballot: the regional transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) and the local education SPLOST.

I have made my opposition to the TSPLOST well known. If this transportation tax is passed in all regions it will be the largest tax increase in Georgia history, and tie Georgia to an uncompetitive tax structure for a generation. In order to get our state moving again we need comprehensive tax reform led by a reduction in our state income tax. Defeating the TSPLOST will force renewed conversations about these badly needed reforms.

The other referendum requiring a decision is our local ESPLOST, which I support. Our community enjoys wonderful assets ranging from the carpet industry to Dalton State College to a great location on I-75. These work to our advantage when marketing our community to new businesses, yet they often cannot compensate for our Achilles’ heel — a poorly educated workforce. Businesses in the 21st century require employees to be lifelong learners who can adapt to changing market conditions and employ new technologies.

The exciting news is that a coalition of community leaders has been working to address this compelling need to upgrade our students’ achievement level, and last month launched a community literacy initiative. Representatives from the city of Dalton, Dalton Public Schools, the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, Whitfield County Schools, the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners and the Archway Partnership announced their unanimous support for the “Readers to Leaders” initiative that aims to ensure all students are reading at grade level by the end of the third grade. This ability is the single most important indicator of future academic success leading to high school graduation and lifelong learning capability.

We need to understand though that this is not just a school issue. Because at-risk children need help from birth until they start school, it’s also a community issue. So initiatives at our new community center are focused on getting young kids ready for school via parental education, and resources such as a library extension will provide additional support.  

But the school systems’ part of the literacy initiative requires funding — about $1.5 million for the coming school year. The state of Georgia has cut funding to local school systems and will likely do so in the foreseeable future. Both of our school systems, particularly the county system, have significant debts to be paid. Both systems are operating with budget deficits. The ESPLOST will provide the funds to address these debt burdens which will ease pressure on operating budgets and free up money to support “Readers to Leaders.”

I applaud the hard work and the teamwork that created the “Readers to Leaders” initiative. By supporting this effort to have all our kids reading at grade level by the end of the third grade, we will enhance our community’s economy and quality of life. We will also lead the way in Georgia on how to educate our children.

David Pennington is the mayor of Dalton.

 

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • Successes continue at Dalton State College

    These are exciting times for our local college, Dalton State, both on campus and off.

    April 16, 2014

  • Mark Millican: The birds hushed their singing

    For the uninitiated, that line is from what many consider the greatest rock song of all time, “Stairway to Heaven,” by Led Zeppelin.

    April 15, 2014

  • Misty Watson: When blood sugar drops, anger rises

    It wouldn’t have taken 107 married couples and 21 days to figure out that being hungry makes people angry.

    April 15, 2014

  • Working for the man

    You may be one of the many Americans who will rush to file their income taxes today. But you may not yet have earned enough money to pay all of the taxes that will be imposed on you this year.

    April 15, 2014

  • Letter: The glib tongue, the fake smile

    A recent Daily Citizen column by Walter Williams will both awaken and frighten any thinking person who claims even a smidgen of knowledge about — or belief in —  either the Bible, world history or current events.

    April 15, 2014

  • College soccer team would bring local talent together

    Dreams of combining the best soccer players from all local high schools into one team finally could come true.

    April 13, 2014

  • Letter: Primaries feature many choices

    Many people are confused this year about the May 20 Election Day. Unfortunately, very few voters in Whitfield County actually go to the polls for a primary election. But this means any increase in participation can have a significant impact.

    April 12, 2014

  • Letter: Hooper for Murray chief magistrate

    Thanks to all the wonderful people and friends who backed me for District 1 Murray County Board of Education. You sure showed a lot of support. Sorry I had to step down due to my and my wife’s health. I am a lot better now.

    April 12, 2014

  • Judicial dispute could have been avoided

    Judicial elections in Whitfield and Murray counties tend to be low key. In fact, we can’t recall the last time an incumbent judge on the Conasauga Superior Court, which cover the two counties, has even faced a challenger.

    April 12, 2014

  • Citizen of the Week: Jonathan Rose

    Running for exercise is a popular hobby among many local residents, but at least one racing enthusiast plans to take his fun a step further today.

    April 11, 2014