White poster board covered a crimson brick wall in the Jackson Revival Center Church on Terry Road displaying the hopes that a plethora of community members imagined for the future of Jackson Public Schools. Statements such as "honor" and "authority" shared the wall with "social and emotional learning" and "joy."
The March 1 meeting was one of various forums an organization called "Our JPS" has organized across the city to learn the ideals local residents want to see reflected inside local public schools. OurJPS formed in response to a looming state takeover of Jackson Public Schools as a hub for community leaders around Jackson to gather and provide assistance the district requested.
"Oftentimes, the community has been disconnected to what has been happening in the district. Parents and community members need to hear that that is changing" Treshika Melvin, community advocate of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said to the Jackson Free Press. "Community members have not always been up to date, involved, or have even been asked on the front in to be involved."
Responding to a Takeover Attempt
In October 2017, Gov. Phil Bryant decided to opt out of a recommended Mississippi Department of Education takeover of the JPS system. Instead, Bryant chose to partner with Mayor Chokwe A. Lumumba and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation to give the community the opportunity to bring Jackson Public Schools into a new era.
As a result, On Thursday, Nov. 29, 2017, commission members released findings from a student-centered study of the district that an organization called "Insight Education" conducted over nine months. The study, paired with a range of community-engagement activities, focused on identifying the strengths and opportunities such as student leaders, experienced staff members, and invested community members to help every JPS student receive a quality education.
The review was the first in a six-part approach