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One of the biggest topics in Spencer County news for the past few weeks has been the future of the North Spencer Alternative Education Center, which provides, among other services, opportunities for adults to finish their high-school education and move onto post-secondary education.
The North Spencer Alternative Center recently learned that it has the best director and the best adult learner in the state for 2007, and those are just a couple of the higher-profile accomplishments of the center.
The North Spencer School Corp. recently announced it is unable to continue funding the alternative education center, in spite of the center's accolades and undisputed success.
Recognizing the importance of adult education, education, business, industry and political leaders have met to talk about possible funding solutions. I'm sure it's just the beginning of partnerships that will form to keep the alternative education center afloat.
The school corporation is doing the best it can do with what it has. And unfortunately, what is has is less money and resources each year. Coincidentally, I also learned this week that, at some schools in the county, after a student owes more than $30 for school lunches, he or she receives an alternative lunch of a cheese or peanut butter sandwich. Again, the school is doing its best and it can't operate its lunch program with money it doesn't have.
There's no doubt that every school employee wants every child to have a balanced diet at each meal.
This week, as I contemplated the state of education in our nation - more specifically, the state of funding for education - a newspaper article was brought to my attention.
The headline - "BP, Shell profits soar on sky-high oil prices." The fact that the story I read had a London dateline meant nothing. The implications are pretty much the same around the globe.
While already-hurting school systems pick their brains to find ways to save money on fuel and still get kids to and from school every day, while truckers line the streets of Washington D.C. in protest of how the fuel prices are affecting their livelihoods, while thousands, and maybe millions, of citizens revamp their budgets to make ends meet, people still continue to get filthy rich off it all.
The story's lead was this - "British energy giants BP and Royal Dutch Shell revealed Tuesday that their combined first-quarter net profits surged to around 8.6 billion pounds (17 billion dollars) thanks to record high oil prices."
If my math is right, 10 percent of $17 billion is $170 million, which is likely more than the budget of most school systems in the state.
If you're like me, the numbers leave you angry, but the worst kind of angry, and that's angry with no real target. Have you ever tried calling up anyone with BP or Shell or Exxon to chat?
I have, and they don't make it easy. In fact, I've never managed to get a representative of an oil company to comment for a story on gas prices. I can't say that I'm surprised about that.
From what I've read, the companies often blame the high prices on strikes, attacks on countries that send us the oil, or some other reason they've had to shut down operation. And while there might be some truth to this claim, the idea remains that, anyone making $17 billion a quarter can stand to take a few hits at their own expense, and not at the expense of the customer. Needless to say, I'm not sympathetic.
Still, I'm here, driving my car the 25 miles to and from the office (and always thinking of moving closer). However, I'm holding out hope that a successful garden and chickens will help ease the burden of the rising gas costs.
And for now, I'll continue to be here, with the rest of the nation, at what seems to be the threshold of a less-than-stellar economic period.
And before we know it, the demands of work, family and community will have pushed, pulled or dragged us across that threshold and through the door and into another, more uncertain, day.
I wish I could say that looking at the possible candidates for president make me feel better about our economy, but I don't find much comfort in that with any of them. Still, I'll be at the polls Tuesday trying to make what I think is the best decision for our nation's future.
Geralds is editor of The Spencer County Journal Democrat.