County should embrace success

By BRYAN DAVIS EDITOR,

I had a friend in college who was an aspiring poet and writer.

He led a hard life before coming to Delta State to major in English.

He took a lot of literature courses, and I always got the impression that his professors were not as sold on his career choice as he was.

One day, during lunch, he came to the cafeteria all flustered and angry.

When we asked him what the matter was, he slammed a lit test down on the table.

It was bleeding red ink, and the grade at the top was an F--.

That’s right. Two minuses.

Up until that point, I didn’t think there was anything lower than a simple F.

Apparently, this Shakespeare instructor wanted to drive home the point a little further, and he was a bit ruthless in my opinion.

Being told you’re a failure is never pleasant, and getting kicked while you’re down is nothing to smile about either.

That’s been the experience for the students, teachers and administrators in Sunflower County for some time.

The education system here has taken a number of beatings over the years, and sometimes justifiably, for the perceived dysfunction, corruption and overall lack of positive outcomes in the classroom.

The current district administration has been in place for a couple of years now, and even last year, it was difficult for them as they endured another year as a “Failing” district.

When I spoke with Sunflower County Consolidated School District Director of Personnel William Murphy this week about the district’s recently earned Successful rating, he made it clear that the statistics typically show that it takes three to five years to turn a school system around.

“We didn’t have three to five years,” Murphy told me.

He pointed out that he wasn’t just talking about his job being on the line. It was about the students who were quickly cycling through the district’s grade levels, and he was talking about the community, which has suffered greatly due to years of underachieving.

How many more years of failing could this community endure?

It’s led many families to pack up and head to other communities with better performing public schools.

As population drains, so go the jobs and opportunities for more jobs coming the area.

Many in the community had given up on ever seeing success come out of Sunflower County’s schools. Just a few years ago, the entire county was under conservatorship.

Those days are hopefully behind us, now that the district is seeing tangible results in the classroom.

There are currently no failing schools in the county, and all seem to be on a growth trajectory.

At the Indianola Rotary Club this week, Mississippi Delta Community College President Dr. Tyrone Jackson spoke about the college’s recent news that it has seen a 5% enrollment increase.

That’s one of the highest, if not the highest for community colleges statewide.

While there’s room to grow at all of our education institutions here, it’s encouraging to see that Sunflower County, on our secondary and collegiate levels, has figured something out.

The only question now is how do we turn these successes into more wins for our communities?

We still have a lot of growing to do when it comes to college readiness, but it would stand to reason that industries seeking qualified labor in and around the Delta should soon zero in on Sunflower County.

As painful as it is to fail, it’s all that more satisfying to rise above those failures and the naysayers to become successful.

Let’s hope Sunflower County seizes this opportunity and embraces its Successful label.

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