Community reacts to state releasing Montgomery Public Schools from intervention

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 10:50 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - Members of the community are setting their sights forward and on the future of Montgomery Public Schools.

“We have turned a corner in Montgomery, Alabama,” president and CEO of the Montgomery Area Chamber of Commerce, Anna Buckalew, said. “Our public school system is making a transformation.”

The school system will be released from intervention on Dec. 1. MPS said it took a village to make this happen.

“I have to start with the ground people, the people in the trenches,” Montgomery County school board member Arica Watkins-Smith said. “The teachers, the custodians, the cafeteria workers, the bus drivers.”

And the list continues.

Watkins-Smith, whose children also study at MPS, said the pandemic revealed problems for the school system to address.

“COVID actually showed us a lot of things that we have to do differently,” said Watkins-Smith. “We have to be more aware of students’ well-being, as well as teacher well-being.”

“We became aware of our technology needs. We always knew they were there, but it was hiding when the pandemic hit, and we had to send so many children home,” she said.

The board says it is laying a “new foundation” and relying on parents’ voices to guide decision-making.

“We cannot do it without our parents’ voices,” Watkins-Smith said. “We want to hear from you. We want to hear, constantly, what we’re doing right, where we may need to shift and make some changes because we’re in new charted water now.”

New charted water that Linda Jackson is willing to tread. Jackson is the mother of 13-year-old Camberly Sunshine Jackson. The Brewbaker Middle School student just got promoted to the eight grade.

“I just want all children to have a good education, not just mine. All kids,” the mother said.

Jackson said she has faith in MPS and believes being independent from the state was needed.

“If you independent...we can come together and we can discuss things more and we don’t have a third party involved.”

She said it’s going to take adult-to-adult conversations to benefit the school system and the kids.

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