November 29, 2023

Meta Education

For Better Education

JPS Board—Lease Rowan Middle School to Midtown Public 

JPS Board—Lease Rowan Middle School to Midtown Public 

In civic circles around town, I’m identified as the Direct Organizer with Functioning Alongside one another Jackson. The perspective of this piece, however, is solely my personal and in no way represents the views of the organization.

I generate as a mum or dad of a 6th grader at Midtown Community Constitution School about the recent final decision of Jackson General public College District’s Board of Trustees to refuse a request from Midtown Community Charter to lease the vacant Rowan Center University developing. 

Even though I sympathize with some of the reasoning for this decision, I feel the Board acquired it improper listed here.

“In 2015, moms and dads in the Midtown neighborhood questioned Midtown Partners—a community social-provider company that has served the community considering the fact that 1993—to open up a center faculty to fulfill their needs,” Chevon Chatman writes. Picture courtesy Jackson Free of charge Press / Imani Khayyam

Midtown Community: Friendly, Partaking, Encourages Neighborhood

If you know me or the perform I do, you know that I’m very a lot professional-general public schools. By way of my arranging over the earlier numerous several years, I have been component of attempts to drive back again in opposition to legislative voucher and funding-formulation strategies. We’ve worked with JPS to assist students in various means in excess of time. Moreover, my have son attended community faculty from kindergarten by means of 4th quality. 

Then, in the summer of 2021, we moved into the Fondren North neighborhood and searched for a new faculty. The authentic plan was for him to go to Bailey APAC (if recognized), but Bailey was transferring to Northwest Jackson IB Middle College due to renovations. The imagined of sending my youngster, who would previously be dealing with the disruption of a transfer, to a faculty that was by itself in the midst of a disruptive go, was not desirable. Knowing my child’s character, his strengths and troubles, we took Bailey off the desk. 

Considering that personal college is not an option for us, we were remaining to pick in between Chastain Middle College and Midtown Public Constitution School.

However, I was not in a position to have interaction anyone at Chastain. By distinction, when I contacted Midtown, I was warmly greeted and available a tour with principal Kevin Parkinson. He comprehended my hesitation concerning the school’s standing as a constitution school and instructed me the story of its founding. In 2015, mom and dad in the Midtown neighborhood asked Midtown Partners—a community social-provider agency that has served the neighborhood because 1993—to open a center school to satisfy their desires.

A vacant Brown Elementary school sits boarded up
Brown Elementary, which sat ideal subsequent to Rowan Middle, shut in 2018. There have been studies of unauthorized exercise using location inside. Photograph by Chevon Chatman

Principal Parkinson was also genuine about the school’s decrease rankings, and he discussed how Midtown was performing to improve. When I was content with everything he claimed, it was my knowledge of the campus that sealed the offer. The school grounds were being orderly and inspired community. The learners and instructors had been welcoming and participating. 

We created the choice to enroll there. I’m glad we did since my son is thriving now in strategies he never has just before. 

I also right away noticed the small campus, which on the a person hand is great for my son. On the other hand, simply because of its size, Midtown lacks crucial amenities this sort of as a gymnasium or auditorium. There are no extracurricular actions. I have observed little ones shooting basketball on just one portable basketball aim in the employees parking good deal all through recess. 

Emphasis On Upcoming of Jackson’s Young children

Midtown has a nicely-built most important building, but most classes acquire location in trailer-like portables.  When I was asked to indicator the petition for the lease of the now-closed Rowan Center School, it was a no-brainer. I was disheartened to see the dialogue about the lease request flip adversarial. 

To be obvious, as a Black lady with roots in Mississippi, I absolutely sympathize with these who lament the continuous attack on standard general public universities and the sabotage of Black establishments in this state. I realize that in Mississippi, we fear that charter educational institutions could possibly offer a way to publicly fund de facto segregation academies. But that has not took place, and which is undoubtedly not what is taking place right here. 

The bottom line is that Midtown General public Constitution School— which serves practically all Black little ones from the local community who normally matriculate into JPS substantial schools—requested to fork out the JPS $80,000 for every calendar year to lease the Rowan Elementary school creating that closed 5 yrs in the past. The lease also would reduce JPS of the utility prices for the making which complete roughly $115,000 for every yr. No one else has designed these kinds of an supply or has declared an intent to do so. 

A vacant Brown Elementary school sits boarded up
Brown Elementary’s home is deteriorating, and practically half of its home windows are boarded up because of to vandalism. Image by Chevon Chatman

While I’m frequently very pleased of the progress JPS is producing, I do believe this certain decision is a mistake. And it’s the sort of oversight we see far much too usually in general public lifestyle: a rigidity that renders us victims of our personal very best intentions. We are inclined to get so entrenched in our rules and tribes that we restrict our capability to get points accomplished. By failing to even get the issue to a vote, the Board handed up an arrangement that would have benefitted JPS, Midtown students and the blight-plagued Midtown community at massive. 

Rather of turning possible allies into adversaries, I advise that we direct our battle correctly, toward the architects and gatekeepers of a program that harms children by not completely funding regular general public educational facilities. Those people of us who treatment about the long run of Jackson’s little ones must not be fighting one another in excess of scraps—an abandoned faculty creating. 

We must be functioning with each other to adjust the procedure. 

This MFP Voices essay does not automatically signify the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its employees or board users. To submit an essay for the MFP Voices portion, send out up to 1,200 words and factcheck information to [email protected] We welcome a vast range of viewpoints.