Governor issues schools undeserved pardon

Published 12:12 am Sunday, April 13, 2014

With his signature earlier this month, Gov. Phil Bryant delivered a temporary pardon for approximately 50 Mississippi schools that were facing state takeover — including two in the Natchez-Adams School District.

The problem is the pardon wasn’t deserved. Unlike on TV crime dramas, no new DNA evidence surfaced that proved the schools were innocent. Quite the opposite in fact — at the moment, at least, all of the schools are still failing to meet state test result benchmarks.

Prior to Bryant’s signature repealing the requirement, schools that received failing marks three years in a row were eligible for state takeover by the Mississippi Department of Education.

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The problem was state officials were in no way prepared to take on the job of fixing so many schools. The new law Bryant signed effectively reset the failure clocks, giving all schools another two years before a state takeover could occur.

Two years from now, we seriously doubt the state will be in much better shape to take on the task in so many schools — should the problem continue to be so widespread.

But the reality is the state shouldn’t have to come in and help us — or any other failing district. It’s pathetic that such is even possibly required.

Our community must not look a gift horse in the mouth and take advantage of this two-year reprieve. We should all take this problem to heart and use it as a rallying cry to build community support for our schools, work together to fix the problems and improve test scores.

Second chances are rare in life, so we’d be wise to use this time to put more accountability on teachers, administrators and parents and build the school to greatness again.