Sunday, July 23, 2006

"An Education You Can Build On" Meant What?

Back in the day when I did more boosting than bitching, I've sat and stood before the wall pictured behind Roy Johnson at Southern Union in Wadley. I'm almost certain it reads "Southern Union" at the top with "An Education You Can Build On" appearing below. Facilities were provided for regular banquets with the Chamber, Partners in Education, .... where the local powers that be, such as they are in my locale, could network and pat each other on the back.

Brett Blackledge of the B'ham News is back with a report in today's paper entitled "Johnson's $1 million home tied to colleges" that actually hasn't much which surprises me. Given the massive amounts of money flowing through contruction projects at the various JuCos, especially my local Southern Union, it would be easy for plenty of give and take to occur. I'm somewhat troubled by the building at SUSCC, even though I think we ought to have wonderful facilities, when I know some K-12 schools in Alabama are in dreadful shape. I've long wondered about the money flowing in and out of various pockets.

As for the reporting, the explanations given by various contractors and workers make some sense and perhaps there's not that much to complain over. Some of this at least seems questionable but not outrageous. I figure there is more and I hope the Board of Education will conduct further inquiries. I found it ironic that the private people were willing to talk to the media but "efforts to reach" various public employees "failed". I trust the BOE will not fail to reach these educators.

Dr. Joanne Jordan, long associated with, and former interim President of, Southern Union, appears in the coverage referencing her home over on Lake Martin. A contractor reviewing her building plans with no charges resulting troubles me little yet I did note her son Ben Jordan serves as Business Manager at Southern Union and her son Andy Jordan holds the same position at Central Alabama.

Yet more intrigue is revealed here. The Alabama State Board of Education must create some clear standards and methods by which the public can be aware of how our entry level higher education efforts are serving the state's citizenry. "An Education You Can Build On" is likely a good marketing tool but "Education" goes well beyond the "You" as "We" benefit as well. Creating a system where top drawer education can and will occur, perhaps especially so for the population generally served by these schools, is the foundation upon which our state's progress depends. If "sweetheart deals" and "taking care of your own" detracts even marginally from the true mission of our schools then we've got a problem beyond simple waste and even graft. Taxpayer accountability is a given I hope. Peace ... or War!