MICHAELA GIBSON MORRIS: Time for some election homework

By Michaela Gibson Morris/NEMS Daily Journal

On Nov. 8, voters across Mississippi are facing some heavy decisions.
Three constitutional initiatives are on the ballot with elections for state and county leaders. There’s a lot of issues to process, and election day is coming fast.
Voters who live in the Lee County Schools district will have the opportunity to choose the man who will be superintendent for the next four years.
It’s not a decision that should be made lightly. This is one that requires a lot of homework because so much is demanded of our schools. The superintendents can’t do everything, but they play a huge part in setting the agenda and tone for the district.
The decision between incumbent Mike Scott or challenger Jimmy Weeks is the most immediate to voters who have children or grandchildren in the district. But choosing a school superintendent should be important to voters who don’t have children in the district; your tax dollars fund the schools, too.
But beyond taxes, it’s in all of our best interests to have strong public schools. Quality schools boost the community and property values. They are a key component in economic development. Business and industry need well-prepared employees. Those ambitious well-prepared employees will want quality schools for their children, or they may choose to work elsewhere.
We need well-educated young adults to keep our communities vibrant in the future. It doesn’t happen by accident.
Lee County Schools have seen some amazing progress and growth. Achievement test scores are trending up. School district taxes are down slightly.
But the district can’t rest on its laurels. Classrooms, especially on the north side, are bulging. There are significant achievement gaps. Graduation rates aren’t where they need to be to prepare children for the new economy.
Today, Parents for Public Schools is hosting a forum to give Lee County voters a closer look at Scott and Weeks. The event will start at 6 p.m. at the Saltillo Community Center, located in Saltillo City Park.
You’ll get to hear both men answer questions about their vision for the district, student achievement, parent involvement, overcrowding and preparing students for the new millennium.
They’ll also be opportunities for the audience to submit questions in writing during the forum.
I’ll be one of three panelists along with the Rev. David Walker and Shane Hooper. I don’t have children in Lee County Schools, but I occasionally get the privilege of attending Lee County school board meetings for the Daily Journal.
Come join us for an insightful evening. An hour’s worth of homework can go a long way in the voting booth.
Michaela Gibson Morris is a Daily Journal staff writer. Contact her at (662) 678-1599 or michaela.morris@journalinc.com.