Natchez-Adams school board member: Board member: Students need classes on politics, criminal justice

Published 12:17 am Saturday, February 4, 2017

NATCHEZ — A Natchez-Adams School Board member says district students should have a stronger knowledge of the U.S. Democratic system and the criminal justice system.

School board member Phillip West said at a recent meeting of the board that students passing the test of life and becoming good citizens is equally as important as the students passing math and science tests.

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“If the children know these things, they will hopefully be more responsible as adults,” West said. “I think those kinds of things are really important.”

West said many youth and even many adults in the community and country have no idea how democracy works. West said he believes schools are failing at providing a solid foundation and also in teaching students the impact politics will have on their lives.

“They need to be connected to understand that everything we do in our system of government is either directly, or indirectly, influencing things that happen in our society,” West said. “Politics are everywhere.”

Deputy Superintendent Zandra McDonald said in the seventh grade, students are taught about the three branches of government, and their responsibilities, and also are introduced to the voting process and the Electoral College process.

Superintendent Fred Butcher said students are given a foundation, but perhaps it is not to the level West would like it. Butcher said the district is now reviewing curriculum and would look into including more information on both the democratic system and also crime.

West said if students understood the law better and what the penalties are, he believes some young people could be saved from going down a path of getting in progressively more trouble.

Butcher said the district has had Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten and Natchez Police Chief Daniel White talk to the students about crime and also show the students law enforcement officers are not their adversaries.

Butcher said he planned to have more forums with law enforcement, and he was looking for a way to get more parents involved.

West said young people need to know the cost of breaking laws, as many children start selling drugs when they are as young as 11 years old. In addition to Patten and White speaking on campus, West said he would like students to be more regularly exposed to this subject.

“I’m talking about making it part of the curriculum for the appropriate subject matter so young people can learn over the course of the year that this is very important,” West said. “It might ring a bell for them to not do certain things.”