Not everyone who wanted Dan Jones removed as chancellor at Ole Miss wants to wave Rebel flags, bring back Colonel Reb, or sing Dixie. From the drum beating on the left you wouldn’t know that. There are three quick assumptions that can be made about the Dan Jones situation at Ole Miss: 1.) With the lopsided college board vote of 9-2 not to renew Jones’ contract as chancellor, there must be a strong justification for the vote. 2.) Jones did not make a graceful exit after the board voted not to renew his contract. His statement and actions since then have done nothing but harm the University of Mississippi and add fuel to the fire of the messy divorce. 3.) The coverage by the press, especially The Jackson Clarion-Ledger, has had a lopsided, pro-Jones bias and has also been harmful to the school.
In most cases it should not matter if a college president is liberal or conservative. In the case of Chancellor Dan Jones it does matter. Jones is an avowed liberal and those on the political left in Mississippi have rushed to support Jones. His support has not been just from those left-of-center, but liberals have certainly been leading the pro-Jones charge.
Clear pro-Jones press bias
An interesting point was made to me Friday morning. After the Mississippi Department of Corrections scandal and other state contracting problems, there was a lot of outrage at The Clarion-Ledger and other newspapers. Why haven’t we seen similar outrage about the contracting problems at UMMC?
The Prentiss County School District is one of 14 Mississippi school districts that have signed on for former governor Ronnie Musgrove’s lawsuit against the state. The lawsuit seeks money that Musgrove and those counties say they were illegally shorted by the underfunding of the Mississippi Adequate Educational Program (MAEP). Maybe Prentiss County school officials would be better off money wise if they made the decision to consolidate the four high schools that currently exist in the school district.
Prentiss County is in northeast Mississippi. The county seat is Booneville and is located one county below our state’s border with Tennessee. According to the 2010 census, the total population of the county is 25,275. According to the Prentiss County School District, there are only 2,325 students enrolled from Pre-K through the 12th grade. Yet incredibly, Prentiss County has four high schools: Thrasher HS, Jumpertown HS, New Site HS, and Wheeler HS. The enrollments range from 399 at Thrasher to 222 at Wheeler.
There is “considerable evidence that suggests that there’s no clear relationship between what’s spent on schools and student performance.”
–Eric Hanushek, education expert at Stanford’s Hoover Institution
Hanushek further comments that his research and evaluation of teachers indicates that there is too much focus on the amount that states spend and not enough on how they spend it.
There have always been people, in Mississippi and elsewhere, who believe that the answer to improving public education is to throw more dollars at the problem. That is certainly the case with former governor Ronnie Musgrove and other trial lawyers that have filed a lawsuit asking a judge to order the Mississippi Legislature to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). In a later commentary I will go into more detail about the lawsuit and the lawyers who want to fatten their bank accounts.
There is another group at odds with Musgrove’s lawsuit but wants to accomplish the same thing with an amendment to the state constitution. The end result of such a constitutional amendment would be just as bad for Mississippi as Musgrove’s lawsuit.