I'm a proud product of Jackson Public Schools. I attended Boyd Elementary and Chastain Middle schools up until the 9th grade. I then went to St. Joseph Catholic School because my mother wanted me to attend Murrah High School instead of my neighborhood school, Callaway.
Out of teenage defiance, I left JPS for St. Joe but have forever remained a supporter. And though I could easily send my kids to a private school (and I have contemplated it), I've remained loyal to the system that made me.
In my opinion, as an advocate, I have to lead by example. I attend PTA meetings. I attend parent-teacher conferences. I have my kids' teachers' cell numbers, and they have mine. Principals and coaches at least know my face. This doesn't mean that my kids are perfect; it simply means that as a parent, I understand my role and have done my part.
That said, I can only express utter embarrassment at what has transpired lately with JPS and its new rezoning plan. I'm even more embarrassed at how the debacle was handled publicly.
I've got a stake in this: my kids. From the outside, anyone looking at this mess might surmise that incompetence abounds on the JPS school board. While I don't think that's totally the case, one could surely get the impression upon first glance. Not good. Not only was the announcement of the plan haphazard; the explanation for the plan has been more confusing.
It speaks to a leadership issue in this city that I and many others have a problem with. It seems our city leaders have not been and don't want to be held accountable. They're not welcoming of criticism and, in many cases, take it personally when their decisions are questioned. They make unpopular (not necessarily bad) decisions and do their dead-level best to avoid fielding tough questions from the public.
No one wants to be unpopular, right? So, instead, JPS is paying Eric Stringfellow a nice piece of change to have him stand in front of folks and take the heat. To my knowledge, that's all they're paying him for. Tell us, why exactly JPS is paying a "spokesperson" up to $10,000, and where is that money coming from, seeing as how we're having financial issues in the district?
When the future of our kids is at stake—hell, the future of a district in danger of losing its accreditation is at stake—I need more concise answers, answers that I can't easily find on a website or by speaking with someone's assistant. For example, I want to know why my stepson, who lives in north Jackson, will be attending a school in west Jackson.
Being a leader is a tricky thing: When things go great, you probably never get proper praise, but when things are bad, you most certainly get the blame. But that's what leaders sign on for. Tough. When you make a choice, stand by it, explain it, take the bullets when they come your way, and stand steadfast.
The JPS school board boggles my mind, and they're playing craps with my kids' education. Get your stuff together!
And that's the truth ... sho-nuff.