Thursday, September 20, 2007
Letters to the Editor
Thanks to highway
The people I would like to thank for helping with the problem of sewage in the right-of-way ditches are Highway Commissioner Bill Minor and the workers from down at Ashland.
After several months of speaking with them, the workers came up to Cayce in 105 degree weather to work cleaning out the ditches.
They are the ones who found the raw sewage in the ditches. Hats off to the dedicated highway workers. This county could use more people like you.
Help for dumped
I live in Byhalia, the Saint Paul Road area, and in the five years that we have lived in this area, we have been the dumpsite for every stray dog and cat that people don’t want or won’t feed. The local businesses that are around me get out every morning and pick up their trash cans and re-bag what trash has been strewn all over their parking lots, down the road, right into my yard.
I have called the Humane Society and after the third time of leaving a message on the answering machine, I got a return call saying that I needed to call the Sheriff’s Dept. and complain about getting more animal control funding or something to that effect, but if I choose to eliminate the animals I could go to jail.
So I am asking, to get to the point, where do I go to direct my opinion that Marshall County needs animal control or an attorney fund for those who go to jail on account of an animal?
Response to letter:
In a recent letter to the editor, Representative Kelvin Buck stated some truths about his support for education as well as the district’s seemingly difficult time achieving level three or better. However, when representing all, he should represent all facts about all school districts in the thirteenth district.
Let me say first of all, I personally do not like calling any school district out on the carpet. As a former superintendent, I understand the process standards and the outcome measures (both state and federal) school districts are required to meet. During the 2004-2005 school year, a school district in the thirteenth district received an accreditation status of Advised. Although the district had school ratings as high as level five, the district did not meet No Child Left Behind Adequate Yearly Progress and Title I Improvement (federal guides) in mathematics. Nothing was said about the Advised status; it did not make headline news, and they did not have their community, community leaders or staff calling them out. No one knows what accreditation problem or problems that district faced. Evidently, the problem or problems were resolved and they moved forth improving teaching and learning.
Currently, I am aware of two districts in the thirteenth district, in which Mr. Buck represents, who are accredited and who have Levels 5, 4, 3 and 2 schools in their district, but who have not met No Child Left Behind mandates. A couple of the schools in those districts are in School Improvement Year 1 and some of the schools are at the corrective action stage. One should ask, what does this all mean? It simply means that for three consecutive years these schools have not educated all of their students at the same pace or at the same level either in the area of mathematics, reading or language or have not met the other academic indicators (graduation rate or attendance). Therefore, these schools have had to offer their students choices to attend other schools in their district who have met the mandates of No Child Left Behind. Furthermore, these schools’ federal dollars (Title I funds) could eventually be in jeopardy if they do not meet the mandates. In all fairness to these districts and schools, No Child Left Behind mandates are difficult; however, Holly Springs School District currently has no schools in Title I Improvement, which is the first stage. After the third year in Title I Improvement, a school is placed in corrective action and finally into restructuring.
It is worth noting that the other school districts in District 13, represented by Mr. Buck, have male leaders and are rarely publicly outed. No superintendents, boards, board lawyers or business managers have been asked to step down in those districts. It makes me wonder if our representative and his constituency are scratching where they are itching. My advice is if you are going to represent, represent fairly and not capriciously, in other words, without malice and impulse.
I am sure it is the desire of every student, parent, community member, community leader, teacher, staff, building administrator, superintendent, central office staff, and the board to see Holly Springs School District at Level 3 or better. However, the district needs support from every one as well as consistency, not constant negativism. Holly Springs School District has had eight (8) superintendents in the past twenty-three years (1984 to present). In other words, the average tenure for a superintendent in Holly Springs School District is almost three (3) years (23÷8 = 2.875). Our neighboring districts, during the same timeframe (23 years) have had only two (2) to three (3) superintendents; therefore, one would surmise that consistency is one thing that these districts have in common. If Holly Springs continues to throw the baby out with the bath water, they will always be at a rebirth of ideas, concepts and trends, because the school district never gets a chance to fully implement and evaluate what practices are effective. Therefore, teachers and students feel, here we go again with a new program or new idea, and we are still a Level 2 school district. As a community, we should be able to see that this negativism hurts the morale of administrators, teachers, students, parents, and the community.
Let us as a community rally around the school district, by making sure our children are in the correct uniform, our children behave appropriately at all times, our children are studying and working hard inside and outside of the classroom, that we support the teachers, staff, building administrators, superintendent, and board. On the other hand, demand that our teachers teach, demand that administrators administer in order to improve teaching and learning, demand information on the status of the school district from the superintendent, and finally demand that the appointed and elected board members are representative of what we need in order to develop and implement policy. However, keep in mind when making these demands there is a right and a wrong way.
Finally, where there are Level 3, 4, and 5 schools, there are students, parents, communities, community leaders, and schools working hand in hand…for what is a hand without all of its fingers?
Response to letter:
After reading the demand for resignation letter from Rep. Buck to the superintendent, the entire Holly Springs School Board, the boards’ attorney and business manager, I, as a lifelong resident of Marshall County, felt the need to research the activities of Rep. Buck on this important issue (education), as well as the many other issues using the Mississippi Legislative Bill Status System.
I personally wasn’t surprised to discover that he has not authored any bills that passed through the governing body (Legislature) in which he currently holds a seat. I challenge you to provide information to the contrary.
In my opinion, Mr. Buck is simply attempting to divert the attention of the voters, because he is not, nor has he ever been, qualified to hold a position of leadership. He often employs the “divide and conquer” strategy, because he has nothing tangible to show the voters of his district (results). His failure to generate real results on important issues is due to his lack of knowledge as it relates to building bipartisan support. Rep. Buck’s inability to advocate on behalf of the residents in his district is a major reason why “solid schools and good paying jobs” have eluded our hometown. You desire to blame and destroy the lives of the hard-working, committed, civil servants who are qualified for their respective positions in a desperate attempt to divert attention from your own political failures - nothing done as State Representative (disgraceful).
I fully support all those good men and women who he blames; we know you guys are doing the best job possible given the circumstances. Our schools need the unabated participation of parents who need to work with their children and teachers to properly educate. However, many parents simply do not have the proper resources to help, of which local and state government is to provide, for example, a good public library system.
I agree with you, sir, that many are playing “political games,” with the future of all of us; however, it is you and your misguided supporters who are the main players. You make the analogy of a competent doctor versus someone who means well, which may be the situation in your own position. (You are a cameraman, not a leader, or effective state representative) and I stress “may be” because if you meant well, you would have never voted to cap the amount of money a patient can recover in damages from a medical malpractice lawsuit. You talk loud about education but do nothing for libraries. Sir, you have done absolutely nothing tangible to improve the quality of life for the residents of this district, young or old. I challenge you to provide information to the contrary.
You have, however, on many occasions successfully diverted the voters’ attention from the real issue/questions, and exploited situations to build your own personal image. You should not seek re-election because of your incompetence, lack of leadership skills/abilities, and your irresponsible inaction in discharging the people’s business.
Rep. Buck, you are a disgrace to the people of this district, and the office you currently hold. You ought to be run out of this county, back to Tupelo.
Response to letter:
The letter from Kelvin Buck in the 13 September edition of your paper very well states the problems with the Holly Springs Schools. He correctly states that we should be “offering young people the best education this community can provide.” He mentions that critics often “point to failing school districts like ours as an example of why we should not place so much emphasis on money.”
One can sympathize with those critics. The per pupil cost for the Holly Springs schools during the school year 2004-2005 (the latest year for which I have figures) was over $7,800. The Marshall County schools had a per pupil cost of just over $6,000 and Marshall Academy charges about $4,000. Mr. Buck then asks how long we are “going to force residents to scramble for alternative places and money to send their children to good schools.” His solution is to call for the resignation of the superintendent and all members of the school board. Will this help? Probably not.
The time to shake up the school administration was 10 or 20 years ago when the school first began their slide down the slippery slope of mediocrity into the bottomless pit of incompetence. Before trying to fix the problem we need to know what is causing it. I offer the following reasons for the sorry state of public school education in general and the abysmal state of our Holly Springs schools:
Teachers’ colleges fill the heads of their students with ever newer and more esoteric and untested theories of how children learn. When the children don’t learn, no one ever asks if the method may be at fault. Administrative bureaucracies drain money from classrooms and burden teachers with mountains of paperwork. These bureaucracies are not just expensive and annoying; they are a positive cause of the mediocrity, championing new teaching methods and trying to protect their rear ends. Threats by organizations such as the ACLU result in the abrogation of the schools’ “in loco parentis” role and discipline disappears from the schools. A contributing factor to the lack of discipline and a major cause of educational failure is the notion that self esteem is more important than the multiplication tables. Social promotion of children unprepared for the next grade level and the eventual production of citizens unprepared for life is a logical result of the self esteem theory of education.
A cause of the decline of public schools in general is their inability to teach any moral values. This is especially troublesome in schools that have sex education classes. Thanks to the likes of the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and some activist jurists, science courses are not content just to teach the theory of evolution. They teach instead that not only is evolution of species a fact, but that no intelligent design can possibly have been involved in that process; and anyone who thinks otherwise is obviously an unsophisticated and uneducated bumpkin. In many public schools across the nation the children are taught that they are animals like any other species, neither more nor less. Is it any wonder that some of them tend to breed like any other animal? Even in some U.S. public schools rated as excellent, children are being indoctrinated in a morality which is often foreign to that of their parents: a morality which counts driving an SUV or smoking a cigar as unpardonable sins, and which finds virtue in political correctness and reason for celebration the out of wedlock birth of children.
Mr. Buck is right to lament the sorry state of our Holly Springs schools, but throwing out the superintendent and the school board is unlikely to fix the problem. The problem has become such an integral part of the school system that the school system is the problem. I do not believe that the public school system can correct itself from within. It is time to marginalize the system and let the children go elsewhere for their education. It is time for school vouchers.
Providing school vouchers to allow parents to send their children to private schools will immediately improve the education of those children. When the public schools see their students being drained away by the competition, they might be able to get their act together and become competitive. I doubt it, but it could happen. If it does, we will again have a viable public school system. If not, then good riddance.
Lest one complain there is not room at Holy Family and Marshall Academy for all the public school students, let me say that that is not a problem. This town was once filled with private schools. If there is a market for private education, the schools will spring up like wildflowers. Not all public school students will be able to go immediately to private schools; but some will, and that is an improvement over the status quo. Eventually all but the hard core discipline problem students will be able to find a desk in a private school. The hard core discipline problems can be educated by the state in reform schools. If the public schools get their act together before all of their students disappear, they will keep as many students as their quality can lure from the competition.
Mississippi has had school vouchers before. Vouchers were available in 1878. It is time to bring them back.
Very truly yours,
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