Oxford school district drama is a PR nightmare

Published 11:34 am Friday, September 30, 2016

Disbelief spread through the community Thursday following reports that the Oxford School District might be considering creating a separate opt-in school designed for low-income students.

Superintendent Brian Harvey quickly addressed the report in an interview with the EAGLE, saying the district isn’t considering anything, but rather researching models used to bridge the achievement gap in other school systems. One of those models is the Achievable Dreams Schools system in Virginia, a program aimed toward giving students who live in poverty a specialized education rooted in an academic, moral and social curriculum that claims to be just as challenging as the top public schools in the state.

Harvey said it is the model of specialized education for low-income students who might need it, not necessarily the “separate” aspect, that the school board is looking at. However, previous discussions about the model at a public meeting in June and Harvey’s comments in the Oxford High School newspaper are inarguably geared toward a “separate but more” concept the model seems to promise.

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And that’s a problem. Especially in Mississippi. Especially in Oxford. Especially in 2016.

We believe Harvey is personally sincere when he says the issue at hand is about combating the effects of poverty on academic success, but good intentions aren’t enough to erase the perception created when a school district in Mississippi is tied to any discussion of potentially dividing a school system by socioeconomic lines.