|Online Edition Natchez, Mississippi|
The Rinaldi Report
by Peter Rinaldi
Fayette is one of the poorest communities in
And while it would be hard to call Fayette a beautiful town, since so many buildings are in need of repair (the economy is just so tough), the community deserves credit for cleaning up.
As I traveled down
Fayette may not have much to crow about because of its poor economy. But at least, itís clean. And thatís worthy of commendation.
Another alder-manic move
You would think
Our leaders didnít raise a peep when the schools sunk into non-performing and failing status. Whatís got their ire up is that their friends and buddies at the local schools have lost their jobs for failing to do good work.
When the kids donít get a good education, thatís not a crisis. When the aldermenís friends lose their jobs, then itís time to act. According to our city leadersí philosophy, once an employee gets a cushy government job, it should be a job for life, regardless of performance.
Thereís also a bit of a race component to the aldermenís complaint (similarly echoed by supervisors.) If you hire a black person to a government job, theyíre never supposed to be fired, no matter what. That was one reason why the trustees of Natchez Regional sunk their own ship. They wanted ďfull employmentĒ despite revenues, costs or job productivity. That philosophy doomed Regional.
Understand that some of those losing their jobs in the schools are white as well as black. But most of the complaints are coming from black people and black leaders whose black friends have lost their jobs.
If only these leaders were as supportive of the school kids who are the real victims in this political play. Most of the adults in this affair already have their formal educations complete. But the kids need a good quality education to compete in todayís marketplace. And theyíre not getting it.
The aldermen are willing to champion their crony friends and relatives working in the public schools but are unwilling to go to bat for the kids themselves. Otherwise, positive changes would have been made long before now.
Again, this is a legacy of our long-standing race conflict. For years, the schools were managed by white administrators and a nearly all-white school board. Blacks wanted more representation: more black administrators, black teachers and black school board members. Push, shove Ė they got that representation and then they sat on their collective butts while the schools deteriorated precipitously over 20+ years. It was all about getting the jobs and the power and not the educational results. The final product was of little interest.
Unlike Natchez Regional, in the case of the public schools, the schools will not go out of business because of failure. They simply increase taxes and spend more money to pay for the failure year after year. But the insistence on maintaining non-performing people on the payroll is just as detrimental as Regionalís debacle.
Most of us donít have any evidence whether Hillís revamp of the school system will be the beginning of a turn-around or just more of the same. Many of us also fear that it will be more of the same because of recent history. The problems seem so deep and insurmountable: bad teachers and administrators, bad students, bad parents, and bad esprit dícorps. The only thing going for the district seems to be it has way more money per pupil than most Mississippi school districts and is about to get $800,000 more from supervisors.
If weíre subsidizing failure, weíre doing it in grand style.
It is interesting to observe that while
Remember, the real debate should be how we engender average or above average student achievement. Personnel are only the means to that end not the end in itself.
The aldermenís vote to remove school board members without the authority of law behind them is one more instance of city governmentís profound incompetence. Reminiscent of the Jimmy Breslin novel and movie, the aldermen are Ďthe gang that couldnít shoot straight.í
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55 Seargent Prentiss Drive ∑ Suite 4 ∑ P.O. Box 17833 ∑ Natchez MS 39122 ∑ (601) 446-8803
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