Mississippi editorial roundup - InfoNews

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Mississippi editorial roundup

November 29, 2017 - 1:13 PM

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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Nov. 28

The Vicksburg Post on the Museum Art Educator of the Year:

Regardless of their profession, people like to be recognized by their peers for the work they do in their field of endeavour.

When that recognition is statewide, it means someone has gone over and above in their efforts and become one of the best in their area of expertise.

That's why the recent of announcement of Vicksburg resident Randy Jolly's selection as Museum Art Educator of the Year is so special.

The award is presented annually by the Mississippi Art Educators Association, an organization of art educators who are passionate in their commitment to the necessity of art in developing creative processes that benefit all students.

"This was exciting and not expected," said Jolly, who is the director of the Gore Gallery at Mississippi College in Clinton.

"It is so nice when your peers, who are all art educators, nominate and vote for you, because when your peers say you are doing a good job, it makes you feel really good," he said, adding that it was also nice to be recognized for the work that is being done at Mississippi College.

Jolly has long been an active force in Vicksburg's art community.

His influences locally have included serving on the board of the Vicksburg Art Association and teaching in the Vicksburg public schools. For many years, he offered a summer art program geared for children and was named Elementary Art Educator of the year.

And while Jolly's impact and leadership in Vicksburg still remains, he has for the past 10 years been serving as the director of the Gore Gallery, where he serves as an influence to others.

"It is our mission at the Gore Gallery to be an educational museum. We plan our program around programs and shows that enhance our exposure for our students at the University as well as the community, and it was really exciting that we were being recognized for that," Jolly said.

It's good to see someone like Jolly be honoured for his work in creating an atmosphere where people can become better educated about art and he can influence aspiring artists to follow their dreams.

The fact that he is a local resident makes the honour even more special.

We want to congratulate Randy Jolly on being recognized by his peers. It is a well-deserved honour for a very special individual.

Online: http://www.vicksburgpost.com/

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Nov. 28

Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal of Tupelo on a new state effort aiming to alleviate teacher shortages:

A new effort from the Mississippi Department of Education aims to alleviate teacher shortages, a pressing issue facing school districts throughout the state.

Earlier this month, the Board of Education voted to allow the state to issue a special one-year license by request, as reported by the Daily Journal's Emma Crawford Kent. The new option will make it easier for individuals who have met certain qualifications but don't yet hold a license to become teachers. They would be able to teach while working on the requirements for a five-year license.

The idea is to allow districts experiencing teacher shortages to fill open positions more swiftly. Districts can request the one-year license up to three times for an individual.

Although it is new on paper, the special one-year license only represents a minor change for school districts. It is essentially the same as the emergency-license process that has already been in place.

The change was requested by superintendents in the Mississippi Delta, where attracting teachers can be more difficult and teacher shortages are more critical.

Tupelo Superintendent Gearl Loden said the tweak could be helpful when districts must fill positions unexpectedly, such as when teachers leave in the middle of a year.

He does not think it will have as much of a long-term impact, and that's his biggest concern.

With a large number of teachers in the baby-boomer generation reaching retirement age and fewer college students choosing the field of education, Loden and others are concerned about the future of the profession. Increased pressures from testing and evaluation, combined with low pay and expanded opportunities in other fields have made teaching a less attractive career choice than it once was.

The Washington Post quoted a 2016 report by the Learning Policy Institute noting that teacher education enrolment fell from 691,000 to 451,000 between 2009 and 2014. That's a 35-per cent reduction in five years. Meanwhile, nearly 8 per cent of the teaching workforce is leaving every year.

In Mississippi, there were more than 600 unfilled teacher positions at the beginning of the school year, according to Booneville School District Superintendent Todd English. And while the shortage may not yet be as severe in Northeast Mississippi, that will change, English said.

Research shows the most important school-based factor in a child's education is the quality of a teacher. Therefore, Mississippi's future depends on its teacher workforce.

We applaud the Mississippi Department of Education for taking an initial step toward addressing this urgent challenge.

But the work is far from done. And we encourage leaders to continue thinking creatively about long-term solutions that bring as many high-quality educators to Mississippi's classrooms as possible.

Online: http://www.djournal.com/

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Nov. 29

The Sun Herald on armed violent criminals:

The federal government maintains a massive database of criminals who cannot legally buy firearms. And yet, when the names of more than 203,000 would-be firearm owners were sent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, some criminals undoubtedly slipped through the cracks.

On the Coast, licensed firearms dealers dutifully follow the law, sending the information on firearms purchasers off to be checked against the database of those barred by law from buying a gun. Still, they know from experience that the database is incomplete because law enforcement officials and courts occasionally fail to supply the conviction information to the FBI.

Just last week a criminal with a history of probation violations from his drug dealings was sent to prison because he was an armed felon. Hardly a week goes by that police don't report an armed felon being taken into custody.

Clearly, the background check system needs an upgrade.

Firearms dealers say sometimes shoppers are not aware of all the crimes that disqualify a person from owning a gun. For instance, if you have a conviction for misdemeanour domestic violence, you can't buy a gun. And it doesn't matter if your felony conviction was 30 years ago, you still can't buy a gun.

The consequences can be dire. The man who killed 26 people at a Texas church had been court-martialed for a violent attack on his wife and child. He purchased his guns at a store, just like any law-abiding citizen. His name should have been in that database. It wasn't.

It is ridiculous to assume that a person bent on violence will tell a firearms dealer the truth about his or her criminal history. The background check system is the best line of defence that we, the law-abiding, have against these people.

We ask law enforcement and the courts to double-down on their efforts to keep this system as up-to-date as possible. And we thank our firearms dealers for being diligent in using the system.

People often argue against passing more restrictions on firearms ownership until the laws on the books are enforced.

This law, part of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, is one of the laws that must be enforced. Between 1998 and 2016, the NICS stopped more than 1.3 million transactions, where criminals were trying to buy guns

The sane approach is to keep firearms out of the hands of as many violent criminals as possible. The alternative is to take the guns out of their hands, often their dead hands, after the carnage.

Online: http://www.sunherald.com/

News from © The Associated Press, 2017
The Associated Press

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