Set bar high for academic success

It’s all in the aim. In life, on the playing field, at work and, specifically, in education, aiming at the right goals is the first, and Dr. Bill Daggett would say, the most important step toward hitting them.

Daggett spoke to a roomful of Madison County civic, business and education leaders last week during an educational forum hosted by the Madison County Business League.

His advice for the Madison County School District, one of the most successful in the state: Quit comparing yourself to the rest of the state and start comparing your schools to those in the region, the nation and the world.

The sights need to be raised if our children are to compete in the global economy of the future.

Some more advice for sharpshooters: Set a priority, emphasis on “a,” as in one. Having multiple priorities, all with the same ranking, is the same as having no priorities when it comes to results. Trying to accomplish too many things at once, and giving these multiple goals equal weight, scatters resources, he said, when more firepower could be had by homing in on one top priority.

Madison County is expected to be near the top of state rankings to be released tomorrow, but our goal should move upward. As the old saying goes, shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you land among the stars.
Great schools and great communities are linked. Rarely, said state Superintendent of Education Tom Burnham, do you see one without the other.

The premium Madison County residents place on excellence in public education says as much about our community as it does our schools. The community here is one that values children, progress and education. Take a look in Ridgeland at the packed parking lots at Holmes Community College or in Madison at the new location of Tulane University and you’ll see that we also value lifelong learning.

Investments in these areas always result in growth and development as well as a high quality of life.

Another emphasis of the meeting was the importance of early childhood education to economic development. Today’s 5-year-olds are starting their journey to college and careers. If they start behind where 5-year-olds are in other states, or other countries, they will constantly be playing a game of catch-up to others instead of one day leading the pack.

Increased early childhood education is doubtful at best, given the cuts school districts have suffered during the current economic downturn, but it is an idea that should be considered. Even programs that can help parents provide academic stimulation at home prior to the start of kindergarten would be valuable in giving our children the best start – and the best future – possible.

This week, cities around Madison County are coming to grips with budgets for the 2011 fiscal year. It will be a year of tight belts, but Ridgeland, Madison, Canton and Flora all say they’re not passing any increased costs along to taxpayers.

Millage rates should be the same there as in Madison County and in the Madison County School District.

The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Annie Oeth can be reached at

Article by Annie Oeth from the MC Herald · Sept. 9, 2010