Bald-headed gorillas, the calendar and TFA
by Pete Borden
October 09, 2012 12:00 AM | 1159 views | 10 10 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
When he was about 13, my youngest son, Michael, went to visit a jobsite with me. When my time at the site was longer than I had anticipated, Mike became bored. There was a huge stretch of woods near the job so he went walking there.

He returned as the crew took its afternoon break. The foreman jokingly asked him if he had found anything other than trees in the woods. Thus began a strange tale, retold in his words, as closely as I can recall them, after 34 years.

“You won’t believe it but I walked into this hidden village of gorillas living in those woods. There musta been 75 to a 100 of them living in this little village in a kinda clearing. The funny thing is, all these gorillas were walking around with umbrellas. I couldn’t figure out why gorillas would need umbrellas until I noticed they were all bald headed. I’m not kidding you. They didn’t have a single hair on their heads. (By this time, all the men were giving each other funny looks. But they were all giving him their undivided attention.) I finally figured out they needed the umbrellas to keep their heads from getting sunburned.”

At that, one of the crew said. “Mike, you are as full of it as your dad.” Mike responded, “I figured nobody would believe me, so I brought back proof.” With that, he retrieved, from behind a block pile, the remnants of a broken umbrella, and said, “See, I brought back one of their umbrellas to prove it to you.”

You are, no doubt, wondering about the significance of that story. The fact is, the tattered umbrella was pretty flimsy evidence of the existence of a tribe of bald headed gorillas. However, it must be considered conclusive proof, when compared with the evidence presented, thus far, of the value of either the balanced calendar or the Teach for America program.

The Cobb school board is set, barring a small miracle, to approve changing the school calendar to start school immediately after the first of August. Former superintendent Joe Redden’s steady march toward increasingly earlier start dates prompted a battle between traditionalists (“Start school the day after Labor Day”) and balanced calendar advocates (“Start school Aug. 1) The result was a compromise with school starting in mid August. Everybody was happy, right?

Wrong. The issue came to light again in 2009 with the board, over substantial protest, adopting a calendar starting on Aug. 3, 2010. Concerned parents banded together and elected a school board which reversed that decision for the next year. It is now back at the forefront once more, still lacking evidence that it improves student performance.

It has zero to do with student achievement, which should be the first concern of any action taken by the school board. However, unless a record number of voters contact their school board representative and demand that he/she support the current calendar, we will be back on the so-called “balanced calendar” next year. …

Late last year, we learned that Cobb Superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa, had, without board knowledge, agreed to hire a number of unqualified, uncertified teachers through an organization called Teach for America whose original aim was to place under-qualified graduates in teaching positions in areas with teacher shortages. Hinojosa’s plan came to light when he asked the board to approve hiring an additional 50 unqualified teachers. There is, besides salary, a cost of $4,000 each for two five-week long “boot camp” session, which would, somehow, replace years of training required of regular teachers.

We are not short on qualified teachers in Cobb. We have some who were victims of layoffs due to revenue shortages. Why would we hire unqualified ones to replace them? There has not been any verifiable evidence offered that this will do anything for Cobb, except cost money and demoralize our dedicated teachers. However, Hinojosa recently announced he was still pursuing it, and, unless voters make their voices heard, we will hire them. Do you want your children’s education in the hands of an unqualified teacher?

No verifiable evidence has been offered that either the calendar change or TFA will improve student performance, yet we march onward toward them both. It is time to call a halt to gambling with our children’s educations and their futures.

I expect Mike’s bald-headed gorillas could do a better job of controlling Hinojosa than this board is doing.

Pete Borden is a retired masonry contractor.
Comments-icon Post a Comment
October 10, 2012
Pete, you are absolutely correct. Glad someone has the facts and the continued persistance to point these things out. Too bad there are so many people out there who don't know the real issues.
Be Nice
October 10, 2012
to Pete.

If it wasn't for him, the MDJ would be filling space with more of Judy Elliott's Cr.., or writing about things like:

The sun is good, because it warms the planet

I feel good on days when I feel good

and Being nice, is nice
October 09, 2012

Your son was right. The only thing he left out was that some of the bald headed gorillas can write.

See: TFA, Ever Wonder and Snoos=ze Alert for examples.
October 09, 2012
I wonder how much old Pete really knows about TFA? For instance, if someone were to make him aware that Teach For America is actually touted by conservative education reform advocates, would that change his opinion? Would it matter if he knew that he was joining his voice with liberal teacher-union types (maybe with his brick-laying past he's actually a union sympathizer)? Does he know anything about the fresh perspectives that TFA teachers bring to classrooms, supplanting the government mantra that has been drilled into the heads of so many public school teachers? Is he aware that there are, in fact, numerous studies that prove that TFA teachers are more effective and produce better results (here's one, but there are many, many more scientific studies just like it:

Get with it Pete. You look like a pretty hip kind of dude. Not too late to get with the times.
Ever wonder?
October 09, 2012
Ever wonder what Pete thinks about the calendar issue? I don't, because he has written this column

about 20 times already and offers no more proof

to support his stance than his opponents. He may

think he is doing the public a service, but for

many of us he grates on the nerves like a broken

record or finger nails on a blackboard.
October 09, 2012
I couldn't have said it better!
October 09, 2012
Ever wonder, you're exactly right. I'll think he might has an original thought but then it's like, 'Geez...I swear he's said this before!'

Just like the repetitive crap about the artificial turf. That's at ALL 16 Cobb County high schools and a benefit to all students. He doesn't have the guts to perhaps go to a handful of the schools and see exactly how beneficial it is to the school and how much time and money has been saved on watering, sodding, painting, the mowers and their maintenance, etc.

He only delayed the installation with his mindless and frivolous lawsuit, all because he hated PE as a kid. One good thing about his columns, though? A good sedative!
Devlin Adams
October 09, 2012
If it bothers you to hear that you are letting these idiots make shambles of the education system, then don't read his stuff.

Problem solved.

On the other hand, you could actually try finding out what it is that has him bothered enough to continue writing about it.
October 09, 2012
To Devlin, I really have asked him over the years why he despised the approval of the artificial turf being installed at all 16 public high schools. He has yet to reply or write a new column about it. He doesn't even have to say, 'I was wrong about the's actually a POSITIVE thing that happened to all of these schools.' It'd just be nice to hear him NOT COMPLAIN and drone on and on about the bad things. It's exhausting.
Devlin Adams
October 09, 2012
Snoozealert, are you really that dense, or are you juts playing stupid to pick an argument? He has explained many times that the artificial turf was not the reason for the lawsuit. The use of SPLOST funds for it was the basis and the only reason for the lawsuit.

If you stil don't understand the difference, then my suggestion to you is the same as to the other knothead.

If you don't like what the man has to say, DON'T READ IT?

Is that really so hard to comprehend?
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