Johnson Forms School Board Transition Committee | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Johnson Forms School Board Transition Committee

photo

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. and city department leaders will answer questions from residents tonight at the Ward 3 community meeting.

Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson Jr. announced yesterday that he is forming a diverse transition committee to "examine the organization and policies of the Jackson Public School District," according to a release from the city.

The committee's primary goal will be to assist Johnson in identifying and finding the qualities, skills, characteristics, and understanding that potential school board candidates must possess in order to be effective board members. The committee will not offer up a list of candidates, but will come up with " findings, analyses, and suggestions" for the role of a JPS board member, and a profile of potential members.

"Jackson School Board appointees serve a vital role in shaping the policies and direction of our school district," Johnson said in the release. "We need to carefully choose individuals who are not only willing and able to serve, but who understand the importance of serving our young people and the district. The transition committee will provide a good benchmark for possible appointees."

The transition committee members are:

Louis Wright – former School Board Member – Committee Chair
Carolyn Davis – 10th Grader at Callaway High School
Kevin Green – President Jackson Council Parent Teacher Association / PTSA
Bergie Jones – President of the Jackson Federation of Teachers
John Pitts – Insurance Agent, South Jackson Resident
Darien Spann – Jackson Association of Educators President
Susan Womack – Executive Director of Parents for Public Schools of Greater Jackson

Previous Comments

ID
150236
Comment

I like the 10th-grader on the list! ;-)

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-07-29T09:04:00-06:00
ID
150243
Comment

Interesting and very keen planning by the mayor. The key to economic development and crime prevention in urban areas is to start with improving the quality of education that the community can provide. I hope they hold public forums so that people can learn about the workings of a school board and also express their ideas about how to improve JPS. One thing that they need to address is the issue of the resegregation of the public schools in the metro area. The quality of education in JPS is greatly affected by the segregation of the metro area; in both suburban districts and private schools. The reality is that JPS serves too many poor students in too high of a concentration, coming from communities and households that are insufficiently equipped to support a truly high class educational system. This is primarily the result of residential segregation (or "white flight" as it is characterized) and the resulting concentration of poverty. Maybe the Justice department needs to look into whether the disparate educational experiences along racial lines need to be addressed through the courts? I also like the inclusion of the High school student. Just some thoughts.

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2009-07-29T11:20:51-06:00
ID
150257
Comment

So Blackwatch- Are you saying that JPS needs more white kids to be successful? There are successful schools in other states that are all minority and all living in poverty, and they still produce stellar students. If JPS knows the backgrounds and family life of its students, shouldn't they modify their methods and use educational programs that are proving to work for students in similar situations? I think that if we assume that "poor students in too high concentration" means that they "cannot support a truly high class educational system" we have already lost. Children often live up to the expectations that are set for them. JPS needs to create a tone that does not care where the kids came from. They should have high expectations and give the kids the tools to reach those expectations- REGARDLESS! I understand the issues of white flight, but I also know of all black/latino schools filled with poor children who produce excellent graduates. Did you watch Black in America 2?

Author
News Junkie
Date
2009-07-29T13:30:51-06:00
ID
150261
Comment

I like the high schooler on the committee too. After all, students are on the front lines and know what's going on, as well as the teachers.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2009-07-29T14:46:04-06:00
ID
150271
Comment

News Junkie, I saw Black in America 2 and there is one fundamental flaw in the “success stories” that they presented, they assumed that just because a practice/method worked for a few students at 1 school, they could be reproduced across districts. Even in your response, you present instances were something worked for a school (chances are it was a charter school with low student/teacher ratios, extended school days/years, and extended hours for teachers, study/homework requirements for students, and mandatory parent participation). These things are proven to work, for charter schools and in school programs. But I said JPS, a district, not a school. Of course those things work, but can we require those things for every kid, every teacher, every family in a district of over 40,000 students? No. It is not feasible, practical, possible, nor legal to do such. This I why state school superintendent Hank Bounds noted that charter schools in MS were not serving any real, practical purpose. Charter schools are supposed to try methods that are workable in general public school settings. The charter schools that are “successful” are so because they do things that will only work in charter schools. Once you get past the NEA and “Ivory tower” rhetoric of “higher expectations” and “differentiated instruction”, you should look at what districts are actually successful at delivering high class education and you see the things that I talked about, a more proportionate population of class, race, and ability, along with community supports for education, like quality after school and community based extra curricular activities. JPS does have high expectations for their students, resources to differentiate instruction, and teachers/administrators who care. But the reality of education is that students learn who are able, motivated, and supported in the educational enterprise. There’s only so much that can be done at the school house. At some point, the community must take responsibility for the education of their children. We can start here in Jackson Metro by addressing residential segregation head on. If you research, you will not find one urban district (not charter school, but district) that is successful at delivering high class education for every student. And no urban district will be successful until it confronts residential segregation and concentrated poverty head on. Blackwatch!!!!!!!

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2009-07-29T18:44:49-06:00
ID
150273
Comment

News Junkie: Its not that the at risk students can't achieve without white students. White students bring whitw parents, parents who bring resources and access to resources minority parents traditional don't. For example, What white students bring active parents whose numbers present an order of magnitude increase in the numbers of dedicated parents who invest time, energy, organizational skill and other talents for the benefit of the the ENTIRE school. So instead of 25 active PTA Board Members and Committee Chairmen, Co-Chairman and "active volunteers",with the adedition of white parents you may now have 75 to 100. These empirical pparent paarticipation numbers are based upon my families' 13 years of experience with Murrah HS. Now that is a whole "nuther" conversation

Author
FrankMickens
Date
2009-07-29T20:06:21-06:00
ID
150283
Comment

Casual, So you are saying that minority parents simply aren't active in their children's education? Why is that do you think? Blackwatch, how do you believe we could solve the problem of residential segregation?

Author
WMartin
Date
2009-07-30T08:31:32-06:00
ID
150284
Comment

WMartin, The problem of residential segregation has to be addressed in a quasi market based strategy. If you eliminate the demand to live in segregated communities, you can eliminate segregated communities. The demand starts in ignorance and fear. White flight occurs because white people are ignorant to the possibilities of living in diverse commnuities and since they are ignorant, they are fearful. Our institutions that transmit culture (media, churches, and schools) must make more of a point to preach the benefits and necessity of diversity, especially in a growing, pluralistic, diverse and democratic society. Next, our government institutions shouldn't reward communities for segregating. For instance, the school and district accreditation ratings should not reward districts for being segregated. In 2007, the average level 5 high school in MS was over 75% white, while the average level 1 high school was 92% black. In fact the State Board has never taken over a district that was less than 95% black and only one high school in the entire state that was majority black has ever been rated at level 5, and it was really a charter school in the delta, with only 25% of the students on free and reduced lunch. The State board should look into ways to mitigate school ratings against segregation. Also, city and community planners need to look into development based on mixed income communities, like the ones in Atlanta. Policies that encouarage mixed income communites require a certain proportion of every development (not to exceed 20%) to be reserved for low income families. This way, the children from these families benefit from the things that a more affluent community has to offer, such as businesses, grocery stores, and most imporantly, safety. You can't force people to live anywhere, but you can incentivise people and discourage segregation. Current policies and practices (like redlining in real estate) encourage segregation. We need to be courageous and creative so as to create better options than residential segregation that benefit more people in the community. Those are just some thoughts.

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2009-07-30T08:51:36-06:00
ID
150285
Comment

I want Jackson to be more integrated just like the next person, but I still believe that by thinking that it takes white people to make JPS better, you've admitted an inferiority in black students and black parents. Accepting those things will DEFINITELY not make JPS better! You can hold your breath for public school integration, or you can come up with real solutions. If I accepted every statistic and every stereotype for my gender, race, hometown (rural), family history, etc I would be doomed!!! JPS needs innovative administrators, teachers with higher expectations, and people willing to do the hard work that it's going to take. My mother is an educator in another state, and I have seen her go into housing projects to meet with parent who don't show up for PTA meetings and parent-teacher conferences. I've seen her go to the "hood" to teach parents how to do the math on the standardized tests so they can help their children. I've seen her go to churches in the "hood" and teach parents and volunteers how to help the neighborhood kids with their homework. I have seen her go to a child's home after school or on the weekend to make them fill out an ACT/SAT packet because she saw their potential (then she paid the fee, took it to the post office and mailed it). Was she paid extra for any of that? No. She did it because she cared. She still has students who are now grown who call her Mom because she mothered the kids who didn't have a mother at home. If we are dealing with kids who don't have the traditional family circumstances, why do we expect traditional education models to work? We have to get creative and do innovative things. There are all black public schools, private schools, charter schools, magnet schools, etc that are producing great students! Maybe we need a charter school, a magnet school, a district-wide pre-K, a mandatory summer school for low performing students, after school detention for low performing or bad behavior students. I'm open to all of that. I'm open to whatever works for these kids! I'm just not open to settling for the fact that urban schools can't perform without white kids. This entire state is crippled by low expectations! I believe that most minority groups have the same problem with low expectations. We need to raise the expectations and raise the standards! If we don't believe we can achieve, we can't! We're defeated before we begin.

Author
News Junkie
Date
2009-07-30T09:19:36-06:00
ID
150288
Comment

News Junkie, Casual observer put it best. No one is saying that white kids are the source of better district wide achievement. What I am saying is that white kids represent more resources and supports for their own education, which have a positive affect on the collective achievement of a district. While I agree that this shouldn't be the case, real observation of what works district wide (unincumbered by teacher unions and the "Ivory tower") shows that more diverse (race and class) student populations positively correlate with collective academic achievement success. The things that your mother is doing are great and I wish more teachers had the kind of heart she has. But, I dare say that if you would check in her district, that achievement levels are about the same as in JPS or below. Not because her methods don't work or her actions are in vain, but because they are hard to implement on a grand scale. Also, there are quite a few teachers doing those things in JPS as well. The question becomes how much of an impact can the school house have without much support from the entities I mentioned earlier, the local government, the churches, law enforcement and media doing their part?

Author
Renaldo Bryant
Date
2009-07-30T10:58:14-06:00

Like independent media outlets around the world, the Jackson Free Press works hard to produce important content on a limited budget. We'd love your help! Become a JFP VIP member today and/or donate to our journalism fund. Thanks for considering a JFP VIP membership or one-time support.

Comments

Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

comments powered by Disqus