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Oxford’s achievement gap remains a hot topic

Finding a way to address the achievement gap in Oxford schools remains a concern among parents and administrators after last week’s announcement that the district outranks all others in the state of Mississippi.

Superintendent Brian Harvey congratulated the principals from each school who helped in earning the district the No. 1 spot in the state during the school board’s Monday night meeting.

“You don’t get to be anything without the work of these individuals,” Harvey said. “It is truly a district-wide effort.”

Among the individual school rankings, Oxford Elementary placed sixth out of 643 schools.

Oxford Middle School and Oxford High School also placed high — No. 5 and No. 7, respectively.

A public participation session was held directly after, and much like last week’s meeting at the Oxford Conference Center, much of the public turned out to fill the meeting room in Bramlett.

Concerned parent Daniel Matthias, who also spoke last week to the board, again brought up the recent controversy stemming from Harvey’s comments regarding offering an alternative school divided by socioeconomic lines.

“With great accolades comes great pressure,” Matthias said. “We have to look at ourselves. If you’re the best, then teach them all. And if you can’t teach them all, then something’s wrong.

“It’s our job to reach out to the ones who aren’t learning in there. We have to take responsibility too. I’m not going to put a race barrier on this thing.

“But when you look in your classrooms and only see certain ones are doing the best, then you have to do better.”

Walter Zinn, the attorney representing the concerned parents, also returned to the board meeting to speak.

“We want to say thank you to the board for listening to our concerns,” Zinn said. “We are submitting a list of inquiries to help further this dialogue. I think it would be an injustice to just talk about the article.

“(The children) come to school believing that this system will allow them to be successful. The article said, maybe because you’re from these groups you may not be successful. Obviously, a lot of the kids are doing well. Our question is, who are the children not doing well? What do they look like? How many of them are there?

“How do we continue to make the school better for everyone?”

“We need (dialogue) outside of board meetings.”