St. Joseph’s School: Mission Moments in the Classroom

Macon Community News invites local schools to submit updates to better inform the residents of Macon and Middle Georgia about the good things happening in education. These updates are from St. Joseph’s Catholic School.

St. Josephs Thank You
Credit – St. Joseph’s Catholic School

St. Joseph’s Catholic School Mission Statement:

St. Joseph’s Catholic School, a parish community guided by the Gospel values and Catholic tradition, is dedicated to educating, nurturing, and encouraging, the minds, body, and spirit of every child, creating lifelong learners and stewards of the Faith.

Each week our teachers submit Mission Moments in the Classroom. These are moments, actions, or statements from students in the class that directly reflect our mission statement. We love seeing our mission statement in action in the daily lives and education of our students. Below are some recent Mission Moments from our classrooms.

  • “Can I put this extra money I have in our class mission jar?”
  • Sixth grade is planning opportunities to serve our school community through, Student Council, the House System, and Missions Committee.
  • The students have warmly welcomed new friends and have helped each other in the classroom.
  • “I let my brother hit first when playing baseball just like Abraham from the story.”
  • “Today I prayed with a student who was concerned about a sick relative. His parents were so thankful for this.”
  • We acknowledge genuine acts of kindness in the classroom each time they occur.”
  • The students are actively adding prayers to the classroom prayer wall.

If your school or organization would like to publish an update, announcement or bulletin, please use our submission page. The submission should be ready for publication, but may be edited by us for style or formatting. We may be in touch after your submission for verification, to request photos or get more information.

St. Joseph’s School: The SJS House System

Macon Community News invites local schools to submit updates to better inform the residents of Macon and Middle Georgia about the good things happening in education. These updates are from St. Joseph’s Catholic School.

The “house” system has its roots in the British school system where boarding students are divided into mixed-age groups in order to help meet their basic physical, emotional, and social needs and to create a sense of a “family” as they compete against the other houses in sporting and charity events.

St. Josephs Thank You
Credit – St. Joseph’s Catholic School

The house system at St. Joseph’s Catholic School is for students in 4th, 5th, and 6th grades.  Students are divided into six houses during the Hat Sorting Ceremony at the beginning of the school year, and remain in the same house until they graduate from SJS. Each house is named after a saint and has a motto, mascot, color, and cheer. Teacher mentors oversee the houses, and house captains (student leaders who have applied and been selected for the position) help plan and lead the house meetings that occur once a month.

House members work together every month to earn points for their house by participating in church events, being involved in extracurricular activities, competing in school-wide contests, displaying positive behavior, engaging in service activities, and getting involved in additional activities that might be going on in the school, church, or community that month. The house that earns the most points each month wins a dress down day and a special lunch together, which includes an ice cream sundae bar. The house that earns the most points for the entire year is treated to a fun field trip at the end of the school year.

All the houses get together for a house-wide event four times throughout the school year.  These house-wide events encourage cooperation and team-building. The biggest house-wide event occurs in the spring: the House Cup Tournament. The tournament involves a series of relay races. The victor wins the House Cup, and the house that shows the most teamwork, positive spirit, and good sportsmanship during the races wins the Saints Award. Both of these awards are always on display in the trophy case in the front lobby of the school.

If your school or organization would like to publish an update, announcement or bulletin, please use our submission page. The submission should be ready for publication, but may be edited by us for style or formatting. We may be in touch after your submission for verification, to request photos or get more information.

Commentary: How government can speed broadband access

This editorial comes from Kelly McCutchen, the President of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and is re-posted with their permission. The GPPF is an independent think tank that proposes market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. 

Kelly McCutchen, President of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.
Kelly McCutchen is a native of Ellijay, Georgia, and a graduate of Georgia Tech. He was Assistant Vice President in the Trust Department of Trust Company Bank in Atlanta before joining the Georgia Public Policy Foundation in 1993. Photo and caption courtesy GPPF.

Internet access is foundational in today’s economy. Lack of access can grind business to a halt and hobble critical services including health care, transportation and education. As a result, forward-thinking telecommunication policy is a priority in making Georgia a great place to live and economically competitive.

Georgia still has work to do to increase access to broadband but the news is good: Statewide, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reports show, 87 percent of Georgians have access to wired broadband connections with speeds of 25 megabits per second (mbps) or higher and 93 percent have access to speeds of 10 mbps or higher.

A whopping 99 percent of Georgia’s population has access to wireless broadband of 10 mbps or higher. For perspective: Netflix recommends 3.0 mbps for high-definition video streaming.

In rural areas, 75 percent have access to wired speeds of 25 Mbps or higher. That is the 14th-highest rate in the nation, well above the US average of 61 percent and higher than all neighboring states except North Carolina’s 80 percent. (This does not include those who may have access to wireless broadband.)

To the best of our knowledge, every Georgia school, public health department and hospital is connected to wired broadband.

But too many Georgians still lack access to broadband. Plus, it is a constant challenge to keep up with the increasing need for greater data speeds, lower latency and new technologies. So what can government do to improve the situation?

One rule of economics is that if you tax something you get less of it. More specifically, economists largely agree that the sales tax should not apply to business inputs. That’s why Georgia wisely does not tax raw materials used in manufacturing and recently phased out the state sales tax on energy used in manufacturing. It may be part of the reason for the surge of new manufacturing jobs in Georgia.

By contrast, Georgia assesses a sales tax on telecommunications network equipment investment; 20 states do not. Georgia consumers also see additional sales taxes and 911 charges on their bill. This adds up to a tax rate of 8.81 percent. Federal taxes raise it to 14.64 percent – and that’s not counting additional franchise fees imposed on wired services.

Clearly, the first way for state and local governments to encourage broadband investment and competition is to reduce or eliminate sales taxes, other taxes and fees.

Second, Georgia governments could make investing in telecom infrastructure easier by streamlining regulation.

The film industry provides a good analogy. Having movies or television shows filmed in your community can be exciting but disrupting. The Georgia Department of Economic Development created the Camera Ready Communities program to help streamline the process for production companies and provide a single point of contact for citizens and businesses potentially inconvenienced.

Georgia should encourage “Broadband Ready Communities.” Indiana and Wisconsin already have a similar process, which includes granting equal access to public rights-of-way, infrastructure and poles.

Local governments should also promote “dig once” programs, encouraging the placement of conduit along roads and inside buildings that can be used by multiple service providers to encourage competition. (The surge in road construction in Georgia provides an opportune time to lay down conduit.)

In rural areas with less population density, reducing or repealing taxes and streamlining the regulatory process may be insufficient to attract private investment. Public-private partnerships can help.

Part of that process involves demand aggregation: surveying residents and businesses to gauge demand for certain broadband speeds and price points, and determining what local governments are willing to invest to connect anchor institutions.

A competitive reverse auction can identify the most efficient bidder or, in a worst-case scenario, identify the remaining financial gap. Public investment can then be assessed.

Local governments should not try to operate their own network. Consultants who paint a rosy picture of municipal networks are often the only ones to come out on top while cities are left with fewer than expected customers, higher than expected expenses and long-term debt.

Creating and operating a broadband network is not a core function of government. In the worst case, the local government could hire a private operator to build out and operate the network.

Georgia’s broadband network has thrived thanks to market-oriented policies implemented over the past two decades. Filling rural gaps may require public-private partnerships to attract similar private investment. Broadband infrastructure investment and innovation are far more likely to occur when government steps aside instead of standing in the way.

Commentary: Tearing Down The Walls: Restoring Ballot Access

This post comes from State Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus), who has been a strong advocate of the Georgia taxpayer and defender of the rights of citizens, even when it runs counter to the wishes of the leadership of his own party. In this article, he explains ballot access and why it is long overdue for reform.

Commentary: Tearing Down The Walls: Restoring Ballot Access
By Senator Josh McKoon
State Senator Josh McKoon
State Senator Josh McKoon (R-Columbus). Photo credit Georgia Senate.

Georgia has been recognized for having the most restrictive ballot access laws in the country. As a Republican State Senator, all I had to do this year to access the ballot was to sign a form and tender a certified check for my qualifying fee. Due to a recent change in the law, if I had wanted to run as an Independent, all I would have had to do was declare that and pay my qualifying fee. But for any Georgian who wants to run for office that is not already an elected official, they must not only file the qualifying paperwork but also gather a threshold number of signatures, one percent (1%) of registered voters for statewide ballot access and five percent (5%) of registered voters for ballot access for other offices.

By the way, it is not as simple as someone signing the form. They must sign the form, provide their address, their county of residence and the date they signed the form. Each sheet, with 15 signature locations, must be circulated by one and only one person. A separate person from the “circulator,” as he or she is called, must witness and notarize the signature of the circulator. If the necessary information is outside the boxes provided, even if complete, it may be thrown out by elections officials.
Routinely, independent candidates, who manage to accept the daunting challenge of gathering signatures and submitting them to elections officials, receive a letter stating they haven’t submitted enough valid signatures. They are not told which signatures are invalid, or even why they have been invalidated. To contest such a finding a would-be Independent candidate needs to hire a lawyer to have a chance to successfully navigate the system to get a favorable decision.
Just this year I represented three such candidates, along with my colleague Bin Minter, who merely wanted to have the chance to serve their fellow citizens in county level offices. After dozens of hours of work and two separate hearings, these three candidates are on the ballot, for the moment. One of them may need us again to contest an appeal to the Georgia Court of Appeals so votes for him will count when they are cast on November 8.
Over the years there is one question I have to ask about all of this: why? In an era of unrivaled apathy among our population, why on earth would we maintain barriers to people that want to get involved with their government?
The answer is simple enough – elected officials benefit from the current system. Less competition means less of a threat to their next re-election bid. Conservatives are always talking about the free market and how competition makes everyone better. Is there some exception when it comes to the free marketplace of ideas and officeholders? I think not.
In addition to candidates that wish to run on an Independent line, Georgia law has made it incredibly difficult for third parties to obtain ballot access. Prior to 1943, a party needed only to submit a slate of candidates to get a ballot line. Now the byzantine requirements are so burdensome that a judge recently held the ballot access law unconstitutional as applied to Presidential candidates.
If, in my case, I believe the Republican Party has the best policy ideas, why should I be afraid of running against a Constitution Party, Green Party, or other third party candidate? Unless I am afraid I cannot persuade a majority of voters that our ideas are the best, there is no reason for me to fear competition. And increasing the number of voices in our political debate means more ideas get heard and that we have a greater quality of discussion over a larger number of topics. This is good and healthy for a democratic process.
The only argument ballot access restriction defenders can really make is that Independent candidates do not have to run in a primary and so are guaranteed general election ballot access in a system that does not restrict them while party candidates must win a primary.
So here is my solution: Allow everyone to run for any office upon filing of the paperwork and submission of their qualifying fee. Have a “jungle primary” where everyone runs together in one election instead of having multiple party primaries.
This also eliminates another problem when voters are interested in voting for one person in one party primary and another person in another party primary. They cannot do that under current law but having one unified primary election would resolve that while also eliminating the Independent advantage as to access to the general election ballot. The top two vote-getters in the “jungle primary” would advance to the general election in November.
Georgia should want to lead the nation in welcoming diverse voices to the table when it comes to running for office. Eliminating onerous ballot access requirements is not only the right thing to do, it will lead to a more robust debate about public policy and help insure in the long term better solutions to the challenges facing our state are thoroughly discussed and vetted. It is time to tear down the walls to ballot access and give Georgia voters the same robust choices at the ballot box that they already enjoy elsewhere in our free market economy.

Welfare-to-Work Helps Georgians Up and Out of Dependency

This editorial was originally posted on the Georgia Public Policy foundation website and is used with permission.

Welfare-to-Work Helps Georgians Up and Out of Dependency
By Benita Dodd of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation

Benita Dodd GPPF Vice-President
Benita Dodd is the Georgia Public Policy Foundation (GPPF) Vice-President. Photo courtesy GPPF.

August marks the 20th anniversary of the transformative Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. This bipartisan welfare reform legislation signed by President Bill Clinton on August 22, 1996, dramatically transformed the nation’s welfare system, implementing strong welfare-to-work requirements and incentivizing states to transition welfare recipients into work.

The law, which created Temporary Assistance for Needy Families and replaced the 61-year-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children, also implemented stricter food stamp regulations. Those included time limits for some recipients and a lifetime ban for drug felons, which states could opt out of. (Wisely, Georgia finally opted out this year, with Gov. Nathan Deal signing criminal justice reform legislation that allows drug felons to receive food stamps upon their release.)

The 1996 law allows states to suspend the time limit in areas with high unemployment; Georgia is one of 22 states that waived the time limit during the economic downturn. With the economic turnaround, states that waived time limits for aid to low-income individuals through the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) –  “food stamps”– have begun to reinstate those time limits.

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