The Telegraph, Macon, Ga., on state graduation rate slowly moving up a steep hill: "Houston, we’ve had a problem,” a phrase astronaut Jim Lovell used to tell the command center — located outside Houston, Texas — that his Apollo 13 spacecraft had suffered a major electrical problem that not only threatened the spacecraft’s mission but also the lives of the crew.
The same could be said of Georgia’s graduation rate: “Atlanta, we’ve got a problem.” The state Department of Education issued its four-year graduation rate for the 2009-2012 cohort. In 2009, Georgia had a grad rate of 58.6 percent. In 2012, the state was doing better at 68.7 percent.
In the past, states, including Georgia, would play games with their graduation rates, but the U.S. Department of Education now requires all states to calculate grad rates using the same method. The state Department of Education has also published the four-year grad rate for every high school and school system.
The four-year grad rate for Bibb schools is 52.3 percent. Three of the county’s eight high schools are graduating less than 50 percent of its students. Only one, Hutchings Career Center, graduated more than 70 percent of its students.
Houston County has a four-year rate of 75.59 percent; Monroe County, 79.8 percent; Peach County, 69.94 percent; Bleckley County, 79.79 percent; Crawford County, 57.5 percent; Pulaski County, 69.11 percent; Putnam County, 69.59 percent; Baldwin County, 62.82 percent; Jones County, 70.28 percent; Twiggs County, 45.33 percent; Dublin City, 73.58 percent and Laurens County, 70.22 percent.
Of the 17 high schools in Cobb County, one of the largest school systems in the state, only five graduated less than 70 percent of its senior cohort from 2009-2012. Forsyth County, with seven high schools, has a system grad rate of 87.78 percent.
Those are bright spots, but for large swatches of Georgia there are educational problems and if not fixed, will come back to haunt us financially and physically.
Savannah (Ga.) Morning News on IRS scandal: Try invoking the Fifth Amendment when an IRS auditor asks about your income taxes. Then watch that auditor chuckle, double down and dig deeper.
Last week, a top official with the IRS who headed the division that targeted conserva- tive groups for extra scrutiny pleaded the Fifth when brought before a House investigative committee for questioning. That’s her right. But it wasn’t a pretty sight. And it sure doesn’t help the public get at the root of why the IRS engaged in what appears to be a political witch hunt.
“If you refuse to answer, you will leave us no choice but to ask for a special counsel or the appointment of a special prosecutor to get to the bottom of this,” said U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch. He’s a Democrat from Massachusetts.
In other words, he’s not one of those partisan Republicans that the Obama administration blames for everything that’s wrong.
“I hope that’s not the approach of the IRS going forward, because there will be hell to pay,” Lynch added. To which Lois Lerner, the director of the IRS’s tax-exempt organization divisions, replied, “I have not done anything wrong. ... I will not answer any questions or testify about the subject matter.”
Such stonewalling, sadly, is par for the course right now for the Internal Revenue Service. ... The Justice Department, which has already snooped on Associated Press reporters and dogged a Fox News reporter like he was a com- mon criminal, is opening a criminal investigation of the IRS targeting.
It will be interesting to see how aggressive that investigation is and what the feds turn up. That’s why what Lynch said makes sense. Bring in a special prosecutor. Yes, there’s a risk involved. Special prosecutors can get carried away, spend a lot of money and have little to show for their work.
But sometimes, you need someone who’s independent to get to the bottom of a cesspool. Government officials don’t make scandals go away when they use the silent treatment. Like IRS auditors who become bulldogs when someone clams up, it makes the public hungrier for the truth.