Get Moss Point's kids to school


If a wildfire was threatening Moss Point and overwhelming its fire department, we're confident the citizens would step up and fight that fire.

Well Moss Point is burning from the bottom up. More than half of the students in its school system are chronically absent, which means they weren't in school on at least 15 days or for 10 percent of the school year.

That means half of the students are at risk of dropping out. That's a dead end. It almost assures their adult lives are going to be tough. It means their families will be lucky to have the bare necessities.

It's a tragedy in the making. But it's preventable.

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And, all it takes is one person to take the lead.

A person like Mel Atkins in the Grand Rapids, Mich., school district. Atkins took on the problem there and despite several early setbacks, he never gave up.

He got the community involved. He got the parents involved and eventually, he got the kids involved. More than 3,600 kids got off the chronically absent list in the three years of that program.

School officials can't do this alone. They can set expectations, monitor attendance records to identify the kids who can't seem to get to school and recognize those students with outstanding attendance.

But some students will need special help. Their parents or guardians, for whatever reason, aren't getting the job done. Those families need a special plan. They need someone to convince them that education is so important, their number one priority in the morning should be getting the kids to school.

They need a mentor.

If they resist, there has to be a legal remedy. We can't let them throw their children's lives away.

This is not something the school district can do alone.

The community has to help. And that means you and you and you.

There is a Mel Atkins in Moss Point.

Is it you?

Then raise your hand.

It's past time to get started.

This editorial represents the views of the Sun Herald editorial board. Opinions of columnists and cartoonists are their own.