In order to thrive, a community needs a strong school system children and young adults are entitled to an education that opens the future for them; one that nourishes intellectual competence at each one’s level of potential and prepares students academically for whatever their chosen future.
But our students also need to learn skills that will help them to assume civic responsibility
- to be productive contributing citizens
- to converse and interact comfortably across racial, religious & economic lines because we are all on life’s journey together
- to hear & respect differing opinions without demonizing the speaker
- to work as a team for the success of the whole whether in the family, classroom, church or community
- to apply non-violent solutions to life’s challenges
- to understand that we live in a diverse world where we are all better when we work together
This type of preparation is what helps the entire community move forward. It leads to community confidence based on the competence of its members.
What does this have to do with a bond issue for the Okolona School District? Recently I suggested that we make the issue of our school system a town issue and not a race issue. Someone responded, “It is a race issue.” Unfortunately, I think that is the perception of too many. And that perception has too often divided us in the past. More recently our community has made inroads in reconciliation of which we can be proud.
The fact is that our school system has gone from an “F” rated school to a “C” rated at both the elementary and high school levels. There is hope with continued efforts this will continue to improve. Let us applaud these successes and work together for continued success. The success of our schools is not a race issue, but it is an economic development issue. People move into a town whose school system is strong. Let us be that town.
Whether the school bond issue succeeds or fails, all of us need to invest in our schools and work together to find solutions for its success. Let’s take race out of the debate and work together both to move forward and to model for our children that we are better together than divided.
Sister Liz Brown