Jackson’s Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba is speaking out about the looming takeover of the Jackson Public Schools.
Yesterday, Lumumba met with Governor Bryant about the future of JPS and Lumumba said that the meeting was positive.
“We spoke about our overarching objectives with Jackson Public Schools,” said Lumumba. “He expressed concern for the state having to take it over. He said that it was not something that he wanted. I want it to remain in local control. He talked about being intentional to deliberate on the issue and so I appreciate his willingness to do that.”
Lumumba said that while he and the governor are not necessarily on opposite sides of the fence on the JPS issue, he believes Governor Bryant wants to do the best thing for the children.
“My plan is to give him all of the data, tools, and resources necessary to make that decision easier for him and to make certain that we continue a collaborative effort that ensures that our children receive the best,” said Lumumba.
Lumumba added that he believes the previous 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.”
However, Lumumba said 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.
Lumumba added that the failed takeover model is not unique to Mississippi.
“As we look at these state takeover models, it has not only been unsuccessful in Mississippi, it has been unsuccessful around the country and so I think that it would be a nice story to say that Mississippi took on this issue, and for their largest school district to date, to look at the issue of whether it is under a state of emergency or not and they made the mature decision, the deliberate decision in order to get it right,” said Lumumba. “Other states and other cities should look at that as an opportunity to do the same and make certain that we leave politics out of the room when it comes to our children and make certain that the very first and most critical thing is making certain that we provide a product to our young people that we can be proud of.”