OUR OPINION: School begins, and so do the support groups

By NEMS Daily Journal

Most Northeast Mississippi public school districts open for fall semester 2012-2013 school year classes during the next two weeks.
Back-to-school sales in the region’s stores signal an imminent end to the less rigid schedules of a summer break and a return to teaching and learning – and all the extra-curricular activities in parallel with the work in classrooms and labs, plus all the other venues involved in 21st century schools.
Beyond the basic issues of effective administration, teaching, student achievement and fair, productive discipline involving cumulatively thousands of students. All the region’s public schools will be confronted by continuing financial challenges at the state level, and the proposed policy agenda of some elected leaders, including Gov. Phil Bryant, involve major changes, for example in compensation structure and an issued handed off by the 2012 legislative session, the thorny topic of pubic charter schools.
A 2008 graduate school article written by two Mississippi State University faculty members also isolates the importance of developing, inviting and nurturing strong, appropriate parental involvement. Ashley Boyer and Burnette Wolf Hamil write, “When parents are involved in education, teens typically have higher grade point averages, higher test scores on standardized and classroom assessments, enrollment in more rigorous academic courses, more classes passed, more credits earned toward graduation, and higher graduation rates. … We as teachers must do everything in our power to get parents involved. One way to go about this is by first finding out why the parents may not be involved already. … We must go above and beyond to show these parents that their opinions and thoughts are not only wanted but are valued ….”
Strong, reliable and easily accessed communication systems for parents are important, and technology is available to empower that goal.
Many of the school districts in Northeast Mississippi have retained strong parent and community support, unlike other areas of Mississippi where other issues, including desegregation, led to virtual disownership of public education by large blocs.
Northeast Mississippi so far has managed to mostly retain community enthusiasm, and while it is an intangible in terms of spirit and morale it becomes tangible investment when parents are called on to lead fundraising efforts to sustain what diminishing tax-support has made unaffordable.
As the professional elements of the education community shift into full energy for a new academic year we applaud the parallel preparations of support groups.