Sunday Solutions – June 4, 2023

In the spirit of solutions and a new month, we’re taking a look at challenges and potential answers and parts in-between. After all, we have to understand a topic before we can tackle it to find lasting answers. People all over are working at new ideas, so it’s good to see what’s out there. It can be heavy stuff, but progress toward change is never easy. And, yes, there’s light at the end.

Teacher prep, science and phonics

We know school’s out, but reading skills are always important. Teacher training almost always includes practice time in the classroom before graduation, but that experience is growing as school districts are working with universities to bring aspiring instructors to students earlier as reading tutors. Here’s a look at how teachers gain more time and confidence in the classroom and younger students get more formal reading help earlier from EdSurge.

Coastal Georgia’s not alone when it comes to the search for new ways to help young children learn to read but a familiar way is back: phonics. Earlier this year, the state legislature passed the Georgia Early Literacy Act and another bill to set up a Council on Literacy as school districts were already scrambling to build better programs for reading at the K-Grade 3 levels. Regular screening for achievement and the “science of reading” are key parts of the move. The Georgia Board of Education recently authorized phonics-based teaching as part of new teaching standards. Here are two stories to help with background on what all that means and how it may manifest for teachers and students: from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a look at places where the guides are in use now, and from education-focused nonprofit Chalkbeat for a description of how the same topics are handled in Indiana.

Rep. Michelle Au, left, presents her gun storage bill.
Rep. Michelle Au, left, presents her gun storage bill in the Georgia legislature. Co-sponsor Rep. Anne Westbrook is to her right. Credit: Ross Williams/Georgia Recorder

Where guns and money meet

Last week’s anniversary of the Uvalde, Texas, school shootings reignited pain for thousands of families who’ve lost children to gunfire, the nation’s leading cause of death for children. For others, it reminds us of how unpredictable life can be, even for young ones. It hits home to Coastal Georgia economically and through tragedy. Since Jan. 1, there have been 12 mass shootings in the state, including one last week in Brunswick that injured 5 people. It also hits personal and public bank accounts through the state’s economic development recruiting focus: 72 firearms or related industries call Georgia home and represent thousands of jobs, according to this list on the Georgia Department of Economic Development website. Bryan County’s Daniel Defense was the online source for weapons used in Uvalde.

How did we get here, and what are steps we can take to move toward fewer deaths? Here are two stories with experts’ recommendations for finding balance in responsible gun ownership and public safety.

First, from the independent nonprofit The Trace, a look at how laws requiring secure storage of weapons are associated with up to 59% reductions in unintentional firearms deaths: “In America, Accidental Shootings Among Children Occur Nearly Every Other Day.” Georgia’s legislature considered a safe storage law last session, but the bill, which would penalize gun owners for not securing weapons, didn’t make it out of committee. In 2021, 244 Georgia children died from gunfire. Lawmakers said they wanted to focus on fighting crime instead. The bill can be considered in the next General Assembly session in January.

Second, in a Q&A interview with ProPublica, a former firearms marketing executive discusses the messaging change by the gun industry from the idea that rights require responsibility to catering to fears. Ryan Busse, who now works for Giffords, a nonprofit dedicated to curbing gun violence, spells out why he believes gun sales should be regulated with nonintrusive requirements like background checks. He brings his insider knowledge to bear as he describes how the reactions to the Columbine school shootings have created today’s climate.


  • How one state is tackling child care challenges: You don’t have to look far to find someone making tough family economic and career decisions based solely on whether they can find child care. After the pandemic, the task became harder as an estimated 90,000 providers left their jobs. In Michigan, a new state program has a goal to open 1,000 new child care programs by the end of 2024 using federal block grant funds and a holistic approach to staffing, training and pay. Here’s the plan.
  • From barbershop to credit union charter: An Arkansas man was a neighborhood barber who saw his hard-working customers unable to obtain small loans to grow their own wealth, families and businesses. So, he chartered a credit union to help.
  • What Taylor Swift’s Eras tour means for public transit: Public transportation has been a low-cost key to packing arenas for the singer’s spring and summer tour. In Atlanta, 140,000 riders used 4 stations surrounding the arena during sold-out shows, with peak demand as Janet Jackson also performed nearby. In Boston, the transit system had to add more trains for the event. The pattern follows across the country as Swifties gather for the blockbuster concerts. takes a look at what the long-term impact for the generation might be.

Your second cup: Advice for our future

Graduation speakers range from students to celebrities, and the messages range, too. The Guardian gathered a cross-section of messages from commencements and found optimism, skepticism and sympathy for the class of 2023. After all, new grads enter a world with threats to democracy, the climate catastrophe, post-Covid fears, overt racism and hate speech and a host of other crises. One speaker begins with “You poor bastards.” Graduation speakers tackled these concerns while finding reasons to hope – and even make a few jokes. Here’s a roundup of wisdom/advice/warnings speakers including Tom Hanks, Mae Jemison, Patton Oswalt, and Coastal Georgia’s U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock.


Q&A: Former firearms company exec explains roots of America’s gun violence epidemic

Former gun industry executive says the epidemic of mass shootings results from the breakdown of unspoken social contract the firearms industry once recognized as important to maintaining the freedom to own weapons.

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University Terrace housing on Georgia Southern’s Armstrong campus listed for sale

The listing of the property, which consists of 194 of the 1,413 dormitory units for the Savannah campus, comes amid a drop in enrollment at Georgia Southern University and budget cuts mandated by the Georgia General Assembly for the school of approximately $3.9 million.

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The Tide: Drastic decline in Savannah murder statistics

One homicide has been reported to the Savannah Police Department as of late May. During the same time last year, 16 murders had already been recorded by the city police department.

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Savannah-Chatham County school board announces superintendent pick

Dr. Denise Watts, chief of the Houston Independent School System, was named the sole finalist to oversee nearly 36,000 students and 5,600 employees and administer a budget of more than $592 million.

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Audit: Rural hospital tax credit paying off

The program allows donors to contribute to hospitals in counties with populations of 50,000 or less and reduce their state income tax liability by the amounts they donate. Taxpayers may choose a specific hospital or, if one is not designated, the hospital will be chosen based on a ranking of need.

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Georgia study about grief shows how a person can die from a broken heart

A new study of adults in Georgia shows people grieving the death of a loved one are at greater risk of binge drinking than those not in bereavement, which can lead to potentially fatal consequences.

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After years of setbacks, new Plant Vogtle unit hits ‘100 percent power’ for first time

Georgia Power announced Monday that Plant Vogtle’s Unit 3 reactor had reached its maximum energy output, which the utility says can power an estimated 500,000 homes and businesses.

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