NAACP holds education forum to connect concerned parents and teachers with Starkville Oktibbeha School District

STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) – Tuesday evening, members of the Oktibbeha County branch of the NAACP held a Virtual Community Education Forum with the Starkville Oktibbeha School District.

The goal of the forum is to increase collaboration between the school district and the community after COVID-19 wreaked havoc on the education system in 2020.

“It’s been (almost) two years now since the pandemic,” says NAACP education committee chair Nico Karonji. “If you lose two years of education, it’s very, very difficult to get back.”

Karonji says giving parents and teachers the chance to talk with school district leadership directly can help make sure that does not happen in 2021.

“COVID has really, really changed the landscape of a lot of things in the country, more so education and education is the cornerstone of any community,” he says.

The NAACP hopes this education forum can be the first of many.

“We just want an opportunity to understand how some of the decisions that they’re thinking in making and some of the decisions that they did make,” Karonji says.

The meeting was held over Zoom and featured a question and answer segment with Starkville Oktibbeha School District superintendent Dr. Eddie Peasant and other education officials.

Karonji says the questions they asked almost all came from parents and boil down to three main categories.

The first is access to the internet and devices if hybrid learning returns.

“Students sometimes have to go and find hotspots or places where they can log onto the internet in order to access the learning material,” Karonji says.

The next one is the availability of masks, hand sanitizer and other personal protective equipment.

“Some of our constituents are coming to us saying there’s not enough PPE available,” Karonji says. “Sometimes students have been requested to bring their own.”

And finally, getting more details on how the school district plans to use their federal funding.

“That (plan) we felt might need some community feedback in determining how best that money should be applied to accomplish certain goals,” Karonji says.

The NAACP hopes they can work together with the school district to help show them other needs of the community and be an advocate for underserved families.

“A lot of parents are not able to make it to a meeting or a parent-teacher conference,” says Yulanda Haddix, president of the Oktibbeha County branch of the NAACP. “So we have to have another avenue to meet the needs of all parents.”

Numerous parents and teachers were invited to participate and the NCAAP says they will evaluate what works and what does not for future forums.

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