December 30, 2011
How a community solves its problems or deals with serious issues says a lot about a place. Tupelo, Mississippi is one of the best at this of any community I have dealt with. No matter the issue, public dialogue is a major part of the process. The key is to get problems out in the open and to provide forums where people can discuss the issues. There is an art to public forums. People must feel that they can speak about their true feelings instead of what they think other people want to hear. Tupelo’s success at this is a result of various local organizations, including local government, providing such opportunities. Another factor is the local newspaper.
Tupelo is now addressing the issue of some changes in the public schools, many of which are rooted in local demographics. For example, when Tupelo’s schools were integrated in 1970, 80 percent of the district’s students were white. Today, 56 percent of those students are minorities.
The local newspaper is providing a perspective that is thought-provoking, informational and non-patronizing. The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal’s “Bridging the Gap” series is well worth reading for anyone involved in education or community and economic development.