Morris can’t be the missing parent plug

Published 12:23 am Friday, March 7, 2008

What are the keys to a good education?

Highly qualified teachers?

Unlimited funding?

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How much influence do administrators have in the creation of well-rounded students?

Discipline, funding, community involvement, core curriculum classes, elective courses, athletics — what roles do these various aspects of education play in the making of good schools?

All of these are variables in the mathematical equation that helps solve the education challenges the Natchez-Adams School District faces.

It is the same equation facing most communities in the state. Unfortunately, our local schools have been unable to find the right equation that fits the Natchez-Adams district.

And while administrators and school board members are trying to work with the variables, a big hole in the equation continued to stare school officials in the face Thursday night.

There are 361 bright purple seats in the Alcorn State Business School auditorium on the Natchez campus.

It didn’t take a count to see that the attendance during the Natchez-Adams School District’s community meeting was low.

If you looked up at the audience from the stage, a sea of purple stared back it.

It was a meeting in which school officials provided parents and community stakeholders with information about the state of the school district. Yet, no one showed up.

To be fair, somewhere between 20 and 30 parents attended the meeting, some carrying their children with them.

By my count, there were more school administrators and teachers at Thursday night’s meeting than there were parents.

Considering the parents lack of interest, one might get the impression that all is well with our local schools.

A quick look at test scores, however, tells a completely different story.

Out of the four schools tested by the Mississippi Department of Education three are under-performing.

Unfortunately, Wednesday night’s attendance was not an anomaly.

In the last seven years, I have attended many PTA meetings and parent workshops. More often than not, few parents ever showed enough interest to attend.

Another type of meeting took place at the Natchez Convention Center Wednesday night.

City and county leaders and the Natchez-Adams school board met with the public to discuss problems with the schools.

The meeting, which was requested by the Committee for Better Public Schools, focused on making a laundry list of the problems the district currently faces.

School discipline, the number of suspended students in the district, consultant fees, the loss of advanced placement classes, administrator salaries and graduation rates were but a few of the topics discussed

Unfortunately, not once did the issue of parental involvement come up Wednesday night.

And that may be because the Committee for Public Schools has their own agenda. As far as they are concerned, they have the education equation solved.

In their minds, the answer is to get rid of the superintendent Anthony Morris.

It is not the parents’ faults. It is the administrator’s fault.

School principals and administrators came to Alcorn State Thursday night to talk about important things like testing and curriculum But, the Committee for Public Schools decided not to show up.

“We are told that we are not doing our job. But we are here.” principal Fred Marsalis said at the podium. “Don’t judge us if you can’t help us.”

From the people who were there Thursday night, there was thunderous applause.

By garnering Morris’s dismissal, the Committee for Better Public Schools may think they will be wiping the slate clean.

Yet the same gaping hole in the equation will likely remain — a hole only parents can fill, not administrators.

Ben Hillyer is the Web editor of The Natchez Democrat. He can be reached at 601-445-3540 or by e-mail at