Governor Phil Bryant has said that he will make a decision today on whether the state should take over the Jackson Public Schools.
Back in September, Governor Bryant said that while he could just sign a letter declaring an emergency in the Jackson Public School District, he has a responsibility to do his own review of the situation.
“We want them to know that we are following in our responsibility as Governor and at the agency, the fullest responsibility that we have under the law,” said Bryant. “I have total confidence in the board of Education. The meeting with the mayor was very productive. I met with the superintendent Dr. Murry, I’ve met with the legislative delegation and my position has been that I am going to do what is best for the students, not the administration, not the faculty, not anyone else. What is best for the students, their learning, and safe environment in the city of Jackson.”
October 19 marks the day that the state Board of Education will decide what letter grade JPS is at.
“The state department will give its final approval to determine if for the second year in a row the city of Jackson is rated as an F,” said Bryant. “That’s one of the indicators, triggers if you will, that would add to a declaration of emergency. Is this the second year that the school district has been rated as an F.”
Jackson’s Mayor Lumumba said that he believes the previously failed takeovers by the state have more to do with the structure of leadership at the Mississippi Department of Education.
“We need to make certain that we have a leadership model which keeps into account those people who are most concerned about the education of their children, what they have to say, what their input is, and what their willingness becomes in order to see it transform,” said Lumumba. “I don’t think that there is any substitution for that and that’s why the local model presents the best option.”
Lumumba added that there needs to be a change within the Jackson Public School District.
“Ideally I would prefer that JPS remain intact with the ability to make the necessary appointments to the school board that I feel are individuals who have the acumen to make decisions regarding our children and those individuals who look at a transformational school district that wants to provide not only the very best to our children but want a model that demonstrates that Mississippi truly got it right,” said Lumumba.
Jed Oppenheim a member of the JPS school board said that during talks with teachers and parents of JPS students, he sensed apprehension and fear about what would come about if a takeover were to happen.
“I think that there is generally a fear about the impact of things like the potential taking away of extra-curricular activities keep a lot of students in schools and so the fact that that is even the part of the thread of our accreditation downgrade and a takeover is kind of in line with the whole point of taking over our district,” said Oppenheim. “But, parents are worried about those kinds of things. ”
House Chairman of Education John Moore said that while he has not tried to sway the Governor’s Decision on the Jackson Public Schools, he added that whatever decision the Governor makes, he will do all that he can to assist in the future of JPS.
“I am going to do what I believe is best for the students, not the administration, not the faculty, not anyone else, what is best for the students, their learning and their safety environment in the City of Jackson,” said Governor Bryant.