After reading the article in The Albany Herald in regards to the downtown restaurant owners looking for the city to help with their businesses, I felt like it was time to write another article.
I say it all of the time and I will repeat it again, “Downtown Albany and no other area of Albany will prosper until we do something about our broken and dysfunctional educational system.” The success of any community will only happen when the city and county governments, businesses, churches and individuals get involved and make a difference in the plight of education in the community.
I have lived in Albany, GA for 24 years, and I have never seen the Chamber of Commerce, city or county governments, and other entities come together for the most important issue for a community, which is education. In a community with the third-highest poverty rate in the country, it should be obvious that education needs to be addressed. Realistically speaking, poverty and crime all stem from a lack of education and until all of the community comes together, nothing will change.
I admire Aaron Blair and his staff for what they are trying to do with ADICA and downtown, but I can assure you that they are wasting their time and the taxpayers’ money if this community does not band together and help our sunken school system. I am not saying for one minute that DCSS does not have a lot of great things going for it. What I am saying is that out of all of the great things going for it, at the end of the day, DCSS has a dismal graduation rate and that must be addressed.
To be frank with you, nothing that ADICA is doing or will do will work until we raise the bar of our expectations for the DCSS. For those of you who are not aware, DCSS is in the bottom 15 percent in the state as it relates to education.
In an article I wrote in the local papers more than 10 years ago, I shared that Dougherty County was going to become another Detroit if we do not deal with the real pressing issues in this community. If you look close enough, the state of Georgia’s revenue is decreasing every year and that has a major impact on local governments. Every year, the school system, county and city governments, and other agencies that depend on state funding are trying to do more with less.
If you look at all of the projects that ADICA spent our tax money on, you will see that the majority of those projects were a good waste of money. From the arch on Oglethorpe, Albany Civil Rights Institute, skate park, First Tee program, Flint RiverQuarium and the list goes on, these projects were doomed from the beginning. The lofts that are now being built will be another waste of taxpayer money until we deal with the root cause of Albany’s problems.
In closing, I will say this, “God honors our faithfulness and our motives.” Until we deal with the pressing issues in this community, things will not get better, they will get worse.
Lawrence Knighton of Albany is pastor of St. James Baptist Church in Baconton.