Roses and thorns: 12/2/12

December 1, 2012 9:55:23 PM



A rose to Columbus Municipal School District board member Aubra Turner for her willingness to speak out at board meetings, asking tough questions and refusing to simply go along with the status quo. That takes courage, because she often stands alone. Turner's independence and integrity are a valuable resource, as is her candor during these public meetings. 




But roses and thorns do come from the same plant, so a thorn this week goes to the city school district's board president, Tommy Prude, who has created an environment that makes it difficult for board members to speak out in the public meetings. Prude often cuts discussion short, thus depriving the public of insight into the important conversations that often lead to policy.  


Prude even refused to acknowledge the district's own chief financial officer, Kenneth Hughes, during a special meeting on Thursday -- a meeting which centered around a financial matter. This is not the sort of honest, open atmosphere that should accompany a public meeting of a public body.  


Prude's efforts to silence legitimate debate does a disservice to the district. Lively debate is a not a sign of disunity; it is a sign of health and is often a path to the best solution. 




A rose to the Columbus Master Gardeners for the Christmas displays that brighten the corners at Fifth and Main. After putting together a wonderful harvest-themed display in the fall, the group turned its attention to the Christmas season. The results are lovely, with live Christmas trees, ribbons, bows and even "presents 'neath the tree." The displays certainly put us in the holiday mood. 




A rose to Nickie Nicholson, the new director of Columbus Main Street, as well as to her predecessor, Amber Brislin. The director's position is a key spot in promoting downtown Columbus, and we wish Nicholson luck as she begins her new endeavor. We thank Brislin for her dedicated service and look forward to the new ideas Nicholson brings to town. 




A rose to all the people for whom the Christmas season means giving to others. Countless civic organizations, clubs, churches and public entities work tirelessly each year to make the holidays special for those who might otherwise go without even the most basic necessities. Christmas is, indeed, a time for sharing. We salute the many volunteers in our community who donate their time, money and efforts to helping the less fortunate. We are inspired by your kindness. 




A rose to Mississippi University for Women's Center for Creative Learning and to all the parents who turned out for this weekend's first statewide conference of Parents for Public Schools, a nationwide organization devoted to improving public education.  


MUW hosted a stellar kickoff program Friday night, with rousing speeches from local attorney Scott Colom and Germain McConnell, director of academic affairs for Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science.  


The program focused on ways to address the challenges facing black males, and the ways parents can help their children triumph over those obstacles.  


Statistics have shown that children whose parents are actively involved in their education tend to perform better than their counterparts. They also tend to have higher self-esteem, become better readers and handle peer pressure better. It is not a question of whether you support private schools or public schools; it is a commitment to support your child and take an active part in their education.  


We agree with Colom's comments Friday night: Events that foster conversation between parents and educators and encourage action are a good step on the road to true education reform.