14 Cents To The Promised Land | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

14 Cents To The Promised Land

"We must not let anything interfere with the ability of the youth of this region to secure here in the region as good an education as is available anywhere in the country, and this opportunity must be available to all of the bright young men and women and not just to the chosen few. Only in this way can the South be true to its promise."
— William Winter, March 27, 1963

I believe in giving credit where it is due, so here it is: If it weren't for public-school teachers who believed that a scraggly little Mississippi girl with bad grammar could be more, you would not be reading these words today.

That is the honest-to-God truth. I would likely be living in a trailer park still, trying to support too many kids, crying at night because I hadn't had the chance to use my brain or be something more than one would expect from the daughter of sharecroppers who couldn't (mother) or could barely (father) read.

Public education changed my life and my future. I owe everything I am, or can ever be, to a system set up to give me the same opportunities as kids who ate their catfish and banana pudding with silver forks and spoons every night. It is a debt to my fellow citizens that I can never fully repay. But I will keep trying.

There is nothing more American than a public-school system that enables any child a chance at the American dream. There is nothing more genius than the public investing in the children of tomorrow. There is nothing more brilliant or far-thinking than sharing a bit of our blessings so that our communities become safer, stronger places where businesses thrive—and create more jobs for all.

It's a delicious and glorious cycle. But it's a cycle that must be supported, or it falls apart. When children go to schools we let crumble and decay, it is hard to tell them that we believe in them and their potential. Holes in school roofs symbolize sloppiness and dishonesty in our attempts to tell them to do what is right for everyone around them. Educating kids in trailers makes it hard to convince them that we want them to be the best and the brightest, and to stay in the state and give back.

We need to walk our talk. We must do unto others as we would have them do unto us—or as they have done unto us to help us get where we are today. That means respecting children's right to learn, so that they will grow up and afford the community and the country the respect and responsibility that good citizens learn from a good education.

It's a cycle that, when supported, will not fail us—paying us back in a safer city, rich with pride, good jobs and young people with a debt to pay. And they will repay it; when we teach our children well, they know intrinsically that they have to give back. They know that each one must teach one. They pass it on.

It is not only the physical buildings and the students we must support—we must be there for the real American heroes, the ones who slog and scrape and make a difference in times of war and peace. We must support our teachers. They are literally shaping our future.

A couple weeks ago, I attended a heartstring-tugging ceremony at Boyd Elementary School on Northside Drive. Attending were a rainbow coalition of people who care about Jackson and our future—from Dr. Helen Barnes to Camp Best of the Fondren Renaissance Foundation to businessman Joel Brown to City Councilman Leslie McLemore. After Tony climbed a ladder to hang his painting of Medgar Evers, given that day to the children of Boyd, the young people responded with songs, poems and odes to Medgar Evers. That room was filled with future state leaders—surrounded by teachers who are helping them locate the bootstraps that will get them to the top.

But at the reception afterward, I heard one of the teachers talking about old carpet smells that were literally making her and other teachers sick to their stomachs.

Making our teachers sick is not an investment in our future, folks. Neither is making them teach in trailers or without sufficient materials to get the job done well. We will lose our best and brightest teachers to richer districts and other states if we don't invest a minimal amount in our future—the school bond issue on the ballot Tuesday will cost the average taxpayer $50 per year. That's $4.17 a month, 96 cents a week, 14 cents a day.

We need to award our teaching heroes 14 cents a day simply for staying the course. Jackson Public Schools have shown remarkable progress in recent years—despite a serious under-commitment by taxpayers. ACT scores are going up, which means better college educations, better jobs and, ultimately, more tax dollars in the city and state. More JPS students are graduating than ever before. More students are taking advanced placement courses.

This is a cycle to love and encourage and nurture. We can do that next week by supporting the bond issue that will, in turn, help plug holes in our city's schools—literally and figuratively. As former Gov. William Winter—the father of education reform in the state—said in a 1985 WJTV commentary published in a new and wonderful book of his writings: "Money alone may not guarantee better schools, but we are not going to get better schools and better teachers without it. The truth of the matter is that for a long time we have been getting some rare bargains in so many of our teachers."

Rare bargains, indeed. It is vital for Jacksonians to understand that those bargains will be rarer and rarer if the community does not support teachers' work, and that of the schools and their mission to educate and prepare more young people for the local work force. Gov. Winter talked in 1992 about the need for "caring, conscientious and competent teachers." He said then: "Attracting more of them into the classroom is the most effective school reform policy that I can think of."

We've been through a lot in Mississippi, and we are seeing the daylight on the other end of our darkness. But it is vital to remember that we will never get to that promised land if we do not join hands, and share 14 cents a day to educate our young people.

We sink or swim together, folks. On behalf of public-school alumni everywhere and wonderful teachers who change lives—like my personal saviors, Mrs. Hodges and Mrs. Salter at Neshoba Central—please leave your house Tuesday, Nov. 7, go to the polling place and vote "yes" on the JPS school bond issue.

Previous Comments

ID
73940
Comment

This school bond is the only reason I'm really bothering to show up on November 7th. I urge y'all: No matter how disillusioned you might feel about either party, please vote yes on the JPS school bond. It's a vote against poverty, against crime, against racism, a vote for the children and the next generation of adults. It is one of those rare referendums that does untold good and absolutely no harm. Show up, vote, and vote yes. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-11-02T03:57:32-06:00
ID
73941
Comment

Agreed, Tom. The bond issue is the BEST reason to leave the house Tuesday. Pass the word, all. Please.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-11-02T11:13:37-06:00
ID
73942
Comment

I remember the days of leaky portables at Callaway High before they finished the renovations and addition there. I left before they were done, so I didn't personally reap the benefits of it, but I'm still glad they were able to remove the "Portable City" label. My nephew is a student at Peeples Middle School, and it is his last year there. I had only been in the school twice, and I never went past the office, so I didn't know how bad it was until I saw the news footage. My nephew never complained about the condition of the school. (He did say something about his bus being too crowded and having to sit on his trumpet case so he could sit down.) Anyway, for him to go there, overcome ADD, do a complete turnaround on his grades and be in a band is proof that these children are worth fighting for. We don't hear a lot of positive things about JPS on the news, but they're all over it when something goes wrong, and that's unfair to the nth degree. VOTE YES FOR JPS!!!

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-02T11:51:48-06:00
ID
73943
Comment

Yeah Donna, Tom and LW, we should remember why we want our personal kids to have a good home, good neighborhoods, a good education, and good schools to attend. We all know the images that love, beauty, protection, safety, self-esteem, and good teachers, et al, conjure up in the minds of children and us. What kind of person would turn a deaf ear and blind eye to a child? Perhaps it's one who sees us versus them. If you're one of those then don't call us, certainly not me, when too many of them is making your life a living hell.

Author
Ray Carter
Date
2006-11-02T17:39:42-06:00
ID
73944
Comment

Agreed. Segregationists and their ideological stepchildren who complain about the crime rate are only reaping what they sow. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-11-02T17:47:03-06:00
ID
73945
Comment

I think JPS is the best district in the state, but that's just my opinion. It is the only district in the state with an International Baccalaureate program, and it's APAC program can be described as nothing less than outstanding. It's a district that has been making progress with dwindling resources, for a growing and already overcrowded student population. It has some of the poorer and richer students, yet all of them are given an equal opprotunity at education. What makes me sad is to see people who deserve to be called nothing more than idiots. Right to the Clarion-Ledger that the bond issue should support crime fighting efforts, or that JPS is favoring certain schools. JPS has already explained that they are trying to lessen the impact of the tax burden on the people, not to mention the fact that they have showed that by revoking 1 mill in taxes. Studies also show that an educated person is less likely to commit the crimes that are creating the backlog in our criminal justice system. For years Hinds County has cheated Jacksonians by making them pay 70% of the county taxes, while they don't get a level of service anywhere near that amount. For years they have continued to put money into the jails and not our schools. The jails have filled up, and the crime rate has risen. The schools have fallen down, but their performance has risen. If we put more money into our public schools, who knows what kind of progress they could make? No one, but I do know that they would make greater progress.

Author
optimisticaboutNewJackCity
Date
2006-11-02T18:15:58-06:00
ID
73946
Comment

One idiot even said 'consolidation of funds would save JPS money'. How can you consolidate schools which are already overcrowded? Does anyone know whose putting this propaganda into the minds of the uneducated populace?

Author
optimisticaboutNewJackCity
Date
2006-11-02T18:17:40-06:00
ID
73947
Comment

Someone said JPS and "best district in the state" in the same sentence. Hell has frozen over. Ironghost, Murrah Survivor.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-11-02T22:25:08-06:00
ID
73948
Comment

Ironghost, Murrah Survivor. We're you in the APAC program?

Author
optimisticaboutNewJackCity
Date
2006-11-03T17:37:47-06:00
ID
73949
Comment

I did go to APAC one year. The sole bit of enlightenment at Murrah.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-11-03T19:56:45-06:00
ID
73950
Comment

Academics or performing arts? I thought about APAC when I was in school, but I chickened out. I thought that if I had to leave school during the day, I would miss something.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-03T20:17:40-06:00
ID
73951
Comment

Vote yes for JPS. This may help stop truancy. If you visit some of these schools Peeples comes to my mind you might see why some kids stop going. there are others like Lanier, They don't inspire one to want to stay in school. Take a friend to the polls Tuesday and ask them to vote YES.

Author
jada
Date
2006-11-03T20:35:17-06:00
ID
73952
Comment

Academic. I'm hardly a performer. :)

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-11-03T22:58:07-06:00
ID
73953
Comment

IG, I think I could have gone either way. I was making mostly A's, but I was a seriuos art student too. I also had an interest in music (violin, piano, flute, etc.) and acting. Maybe I didn't need to be there because I don't think I would know what to do with myself!

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-03T23:10:58-06:00
ID
73954
Comment

With all, do respect, I am in no way inclined to vote in favor of having the City of Jackson have any more money to squander, in the name of education. The accounting principals and oversight regulations within this city's departments cannot be trusted. I have grown weary of having Hinds county and the City of Jackson continue to raise my property taxes, only to mishandle and somehow have to come back in a few years to pick my pocket again. This bond issue is another tax on home and business owners, many of whom have no children, or if they do have children, send them to private schools, so as not to subject their children to a substandard public educational system. Furthermore, I could be incorrect, but I would bet dollars to dounuts that a majority of students in the City of Jackson Public Schools are from households where little or no Federal or State income taxes, Business and Property taxes are paid. Thus creating a sort of double tax imposed on those parents who own homes and or businesses who choose to send their children to private schools, or do not have children.

Author
GothamCityman
Date
2006-11-05T09:19:35-06:00
ID
73955
Comment

Gotham... That would be the standard defense I've personally heard against any Bond Issue JPS ever wanted to issue since the early 80's. The old "It'll be the poor, white business owner with no kids being forced to bear the burden, wah wah wah..." With all due respect, there are ancient schools in JPS falling apart. They can't tear them down and move the students, because the district is crowded as it is. We all also know that a large, uneducated populace will never attract any major industry, or even minor ones. Like it or not, JPS needs the bond issue.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2006-11-05T11:38:26-06:00
ID
73956
Comment

Here's the URL: http://www.jpsbondcampaign.com/ To Gotham: My sister's son and daughter need this. In addition, she works three jobs and is a taxpayer. Don't make assumptions about people you don't know. How about making it your business to ask some of these "households" what is really going on? Also, the parents who send their children to private schools for dubious reasons are part of the reason why JPS has to beg for money. (from a former JPS student with a college degree and a high IQ)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-05T20:33:46-06:00
ID
73957
Comment

Sorry Ironghost, I'm not convinced a city that cannot even deliver credible police protection, repair roads, enforce traffic laws, not to mention even deliver basic services can be trusted in any way to handle my tax dollars in a proper and responabile fiduciary manner. In addition, more waste of my tax dollars is the MEA teachers union, which has no intention in having the status quo upset. Teachers must be compensated in accordance with their skill level and proficiency. It is paramount that increased compensation be based on merit and performance alone, and no across the board raises should be given to all. Only the best teachers should be rewarded, not all teachers at the same rate of increases. Why must underperforming teachers be rewarded with raises, equal to those teachers who are busting their bitts, excelling, exciting and shaping the young minds into even greater adult minds of the students of Jackson. To make matters worse, the parents of most of these students are not even taking parental responsibility for instructing these children with the proper social skills needed to even begin to be successful, let alone teaching them the life lesson that. “That success in life must be earned, it is not a right, and can only be attained with hard work, and perseverance”. Finally, again I will not cast my vote to allow the city an additional chance to pick my pocket by raising my property taxes and throw money to fix a problem, which money alone cannot repair.

Author
GothamCityman
Date
2006-11-05T21:06:15-06:00
ID
73958
Comment

Where can I read the actual bond issue itself, the plans for spending the money, etc? Not the frequently asked questions section of that website but the bond language.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2006-11-05T21:20:38-06:00
ID
73959
Comment

Gotham writes: To make matters worse, the parents of most of these students are not even taking parental responsibility for instructing these children with the proper social skills No offense, Gotham, but "let's punish the kids because I'm making racist assumptions about their parents" isn't really a compelling argument against the school bond. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-11-05T21:34:39-06:00
ID
73960
Comment

Gotham, I assume that since you are voting "no" that if the bond does not pass, you will do your part to help JPS free of charge. Will you be at Peeples Middle School putting bleach on the mold spots, scraping peeling paint from the walls, or mentoring children who are not receiving the level of guidance you think they should be receiving? What better way to teach hard work and perseverance, right? Better yet, how about starting a private school yourself so that all of these kids won't need tax dollars to learn in a decent bulding? Maybe they could all come to your house, right? No, money is not the sole solution, but it's a big chunk of it, like it or not. Of course, you have the right to vote any way you want. Just don't be judgmental about it. By the way, I understand your point about teacher raises.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-05T21:37:40-06:00
ID
73961
Comment

...Kingfish, on the other hand, has a valid question. You can read more about the bond issue here. Folks like Gotham will never vote to support JPS because they are not sympathetic to the population JPS serves. It is incumbent on the rest of us to vote for this bill, and in sufficient numbers to get 60%. Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-11-05T21:39:52-06:00
ID
73962
Comment

Oh, I see what you're saying, Kingfish. Sorry for any confusion. Donna, Brian, either of you know where we can find the text of the resolution...? Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-11-05T21:42:23-06:00
ID
73963
Comment

Kingfish, I haven't found a copy of the bond (Donna?), but here are some photos of needed improvements at the JPS web site.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-05T21:45:10-06:00
ID
73964
Comment

LW, I am doing my part, by owning a business, employing dedicated hardworking individuals who also pay income taxes that contribute to the Federal, State of Mississippi, Hinds County and City of Jackson economy. I even earn enough money after working 80+ hours a week to pay income taxes without a REFUND to the Federal Government, the State of Mississippi, and paying my homeowner’s property taxes to underwrite Hinds County and the City of Jackson. I also volunteer helping out the less fortunate, the aged and forgotten veterans in the VA nursing home, while contributing to my church.

Author
GothamCityman
Date
2006-11-05T21:53:46-06:00
ID
73965
Comment

First step to improving education: Throw out Goss V. Lopez.

Author
Kingfish
Date
2006-11-05T22:02:33-06:00
ID
73966
Comment

Tom head, Taking about making assumptions! How is it you presume me to be unsympathetic, to the population served by the JPS? You have no concrete evidence to make such a presumption, given your earlier post “No offense, Gotham, but "let's punish the kids because I'm making racist assumptions about their parents", how erroneously presumptuous of you!

Author
GothamCityman
Date
2006-11-05T22:08:32-06:00
ID
73967
Comment

Gotham, I am glad that you are doing your part in the community by contributing and working hard, but based on your first comment here, I've come to the conclusion that how you feel about JPS and some of the residents here has to be a matter of the heart. It's good that you contribute to your church, but did anyone at your church ever mention this: When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Matthew 25:31-46) So, if you consider JPS students to be "the least of these", WWJD?

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-05T22:10:15-06:00
ID
73968
Comment

kingfish, try this link for now. I'm having PC problems and can't open any PDFs right now.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-05T22:19:13-06:00
ID
73969
Comment

Well said, I do not fear that I have abandoned those who have approached me in need. What is failed to be mentioned is the financial cost of this project, and on whom the financial burden will be placed. The property and homeowner's are the ones slated to pay this bill. That is the fact cold truth. The property and business owners will be paying, not apartment dwellers, or the individuals who pay little or no income taxes and those receiving "entitlement program funds" and no, paying sales taxes do not count. You can only go to the well so often, it will come up dry when you tap it to much.

Author
GothamCityman
Date
2006-11-05T22:32:23-06:00
ID
73970
Comment

Gotham, since I believe we're at an impasse, let's just agree to disagree, and I wish you the best in life.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-05T22:44:52-06:00
ID
73971
Comment

Gotham the money for the bond issue will go directly to JPS. JPS has been nothing but a good steward to the tax paying citizens and businesses of Jackson with previous bond issues. They even revoked a mil increase to help lessen the impact of the bond issue. Yes, the people in apartments will pay for it through their apartment rental fee and car tag fees. I urge and beg you to vote for the JPS bond issue. I was a student from JPS (a few years ago), it's not as bad as they make it out to be. It has great programs, and many of the children are struggling to succeed. Why not vote for the bond issue? and then buy into the bond. I know it's a risk, but you'll be getting a bargain. More customers as people move in for better schools, higher property values, and a return on the bond money. Just trying to persuade you. These children shouldn't have to come home to bad housing , and then go to a dilapidating school. That's the kind of people it will benefit. I will not try to convict you with Bible scriptures like L.W. Just think about it. Think about the kind of school you would have wanted to as a child. Put yourself in their place.

Author
optimisticaboutNewJackCity
Date
2006-11-06T16:53:47-06:00
ID
73972
Comment

Gotham I won't try to use the bible to persuade you, but I would just like to ask something, "What kind of school would you have wanted during your school years?" Would you want a school with leaking roofs, crumbling walls (which happened at Chastain several years ago)? These children are struggling, and many have to go home to dilapidate housing also. They have no hope. Give them hope by voting for the bond issue. JPS isn't as bad as people make it out to be, and the students are improving. You'll see property values rise, and you'll get more businesses as people move in because of better schools. More businesses will come in along with the people which will bring more customers to the area. Increased businesses and customers means more tax money to help combat crime. Yes, the renters do pay the taxes in car tag fees, and their rental fee helps the owner of the apartments pay on the property tax (he could easily raise the fees with the taxes). Why not think about buying into the bond issue? You will probably get a return on a significant amount of the money you paid in taxes. All JPS outstanding bond issues rated “A. AA. ” with underlying rating of “A". They even revoked 1 millage of tax to lessen the tax burden on business owners and residents. This money will go directly to JPS, not into the hands of the city council and Melton which I wouldn't even vote on a bond that would go into their hands. The money will be put to good use. They need alot more money than they are asking for. The facility study recommended 3 times the amount in the bond issue. So please think about it. Pray about it. Put yourself in the place of the children. "What about the children, remember when we were children. If not for those who loved us, and cared enough to show us. Where would we be today?" -Yolanda Adams

Author
optimisticaboutNewJackCity
Date
2006-11-06T17:23:46-06:00
ID
73973
Comment

I'm sorry Gotham but I don't know where that first post came from

Author
optimisticaboutNewJackCity
Date
2006-11-06T17:28:51-06:00
ID
73974
Comment

I will not try to convict you with Bible scriptures like L.W. Gotham, excuse me if you felt convicted.

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-06T19:18:25-06:00
ID
73975
Comment

I like your Bible verses, L.W., especially: Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. That's a better argument than Gotham even thought about making. The choice here is simple: Greed or investment in the future for all our citizens? It's a no-brainer.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-11-06T19:23:51-06:00
ID
73976
Comment

Ladd, I like the scriptures too. I just wanted to go about a different way of talking to him. Since L.W. already took the stance I would have originally taken. It never hurts to try something new

Author
optimisticaboutNewJackCity
Date
2006-11-07T15:57:19-06:00
ID
73977
Comment

Oh, I agree, optimistic. And it's perfectly understandable to not want to discuss this issue using Bible verses. I remember when I tried to debate a student in high school about women's right, and the dude's only argument were select verses from the Bible (and he was prepped by our history teacher!). That sucked.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-11-07T16:02:21-06:00
ID
73978
Comment

And it's perfectly understandable to not want to discuss this issue using Bible verses. Yeah, I wouldn't have posted them if Gotham did not say he went to church. Donna, the verse you pointed out was the only one I was going to use, but I looked at all of it and got excited. Once again, excuse me. :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-07T19:04:50-06:00
ID
73979
Comment

No apologies needed either direction here, folks. Nothing wrong with Bible verses; nothing wrong with preferring other reasons. Personally, I like all the reasons I can come up with to do the right thing. ;-D

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2006-11-07T19:12:22-06:00
ID
73980
Comment

Good stuff, Latasha! I think Bible verses can make a useful rhetorical point, but I personally don't find them convincing as stand-alone arguments--unless the arguments are about what the Bible says or doesn't say. :o) Cheers, TH

Author
Tom Head
Date
2006-11-07T19:16:46-06:00
ID
73981
Comment

The bond passed! Praise-a-lujah! :-)

Author
LatashaWillis
Date
2006-11-07T23:57:28-06:00

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