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Parents need to be involved, informed

Like most single mothers, whenever someone uses the term in a list of risk factors for  a host of possible negative circumstances and outcomes for our children, I cringe. That includes how they are often behind in school.

That’s why when I first read a story in Oxford High School’s  newspaper about the school district considering programs to help close the achievement gap that included a separate school for children on the free/reduced meal plans, my immediate reaction was one of outrage, like so many of our Oxford residents.

Superintendent Brian Harvey explained the program was just one of several the district was looking at in its quest to close that gap and that the district had no plans to build a separate school for such a reason and I calmed down.

Unfortunately, most parents did not have the same opportunity as I did to speak face-to-face with Harvey shortly after the article in The Charger came out, and they reacted much like I did.

Hundreds showed up at Oxford Middle School to protest peacefully. The next morning, students staged sit-ins and held prayer vigils in front of the school.

The district reacted quickly and issued a public apology the next morning during an open meeting at the Central Office and since, I believe most understand now that no such school is being considered here in Oxford. The only new school the district is pursuing is a new elementary school to accommodate Oxford’s growth.

There are such schools around the nation that do very well; however, it’s not something that would fly here in Oxford. Despite the state flag debate or ongoing racial tension at the University of Mississippi, Oxford residents have shown they are not willing to be separated again – and that’s the best thing to have come from all of this commotion.

Citizens, white, black and Hispanic, came together to protest even the notion of a school for poor kids, regardless of how successful it might be elsewhere. They stood strong together with one voice to proclaim Oxford will remain a united city and a school district for all of its children.

Oxford Strong.

However, we need to be Oxford Involved as well.

Parents need to attend board meetings and if they can’t, they should make it a point to review what is discussed (which is all available on the school district’s website). Public comments are allowed at each meeting. The PTO is always looking for more parents to get involved. Go visit the school.

The school board and superintendent rely on data and research for many of their decisions, but the most important input comes from the community.

Alyssa Schnugg is the senior writer for The Oxford Eagle.