Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Daily Leader on a school safety bill:
It is hard to imagine schools preparing for an active shooter the way they do for other disasters like tornadoes and earthquakes. But that is the world we live in now.
Legislators have filed a bill that would require safety inspections and active shooter drills at public schools. Both of Lincoln County’s representatives in the House voted for the bill, though one did so with reservation.
And it is easy to understand why. Do elementary age children really need to know how to survive an active shooter? The answer, unfortunately, is yes.
“The threat is real and it’s one we have to prepare for,” said Rep. Mark Baker, the Brandon Republican who sponsored the bill.
“I have many concerns with that bill. The amount of work that will be required is more than I want to put on our school officials now and on our students,” Rep. Becky Currie said. “I struggled with that bill terribly, but if I had voted ‘no’ and something happened to our students I wouldn’t be able to live with myself. I pray that we are never faced with this but, unfortunately, it is a reality of our world now.”
For most of us, the worst thing we could have imagined happening at school was getting a paddling for misbehaving. Times have changed, though. And those who are hesitant to expose young children to these realities will have to put aside their uneasiness for the sake of safety.
Children must know what to do if a shooter enters their school. Lincoln County School District Superintendent Mickey Myers said he was not concerned with active shooter drills for elementary students.
“Early childhood educators are among the most nurturing people on earth,” he said. “They are very capable of conducting these drills without traumatizing elementary students.”
We hope he is right, because the requirement to hold active shooter drills may soon be law.
As difficult as it may be for schools to conduct these drills, they have become a necessary component of school safety. The shootings are not likely to stop, so state leaders are wise to make sure students are prepared.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on the state flag:
Mississippi House Rules Committee Chairman Jason White, a Republican from West, said there is no consensus in the 122-member House to either change the state flag or give it extra protection. It’s the same thing White has said about flag bills in recent years. So it appears another year will pass without Mississippi taking any action on the state flag that has become increasingly controversial. Given that this is a state election year, it is not surprising lawmakers opted to pass on the controversial issue.
In the wake of legislative inaction, a number of Mississippi cities and all eight of its public universities have opted to stop flying a flag they say is not representative of the values of the entire state.
Mississippi remains the last state in the nation that contains the Confederate battle emblem in its flag design. That symbol is at the heart of efforts to change the banner, with critics saying the Confederate imagery is hurtful and has been closely associated with white supremacists. Flag supporters note that it is a nod to the state’s history and its heritage.
What’s become increasingly clear is that it’s time for Mississippi to alter its flag. A flag that doesn’t represent all of a state’s people loses its power. Such banners should instill unity and pride.
We recognize that one of the reasons efforts to change the flag have failed to gain momentum has been a lack of compromise. For the most part, citizens have been given an all-or-nothing choice - either keep the current flag as is, or choose one people don’t recognize as reflecting Mississippi and its history.
What the state needs is a banner that visually represents Mississippi and honors the state’s past. We need a compromise that reflects the state’s history but also moves past it. Such an effort is the best path forward, with the alternative being the continued contentious impasse that keeps us with our current flag. Something will have to change or Mississippi will always be fighting and defending its flag process that is just not working.
We do not believe in just criticizing the current state of affairs without presenting a possible solution.
… We do not suggest that this must be the flag, but only suggest that this is a new idea. Our four designs center around Mississippi’s Coat of Arms that dates to back to 1894, although it was updated and officially adopted in 2001. It contains the Latin phrase “Virtute et Armis” or “valor and arms.”
Meanwhile, the flag’s 20 stars are representative of Mississippi being the 20th state in the union. And its red, white and blue color scheme pays tribute to the current flag and also represents the national colors. Finally, the banner reflects the state’s past by incorporating the two former flags that have flown over the State of Mississippi and its current flag.
Greenwood Commonwealth on vaccine resisters:
There has been yet another disease outbreak, this one of measles in Washington state. The situation once again makes the case that Mississippi’s policy of refusing to grant religious or philosophical vaccination exemptions is the wisest and safest course of action.
Washington is one of 17 states that allow parents to cite personal or moral objections to keep their children from being vaccinated while attending school or day care. The Associated Press reported that 4 percent of children in Washington are not vaccinated, as are 6 percent of children in the county where the measles cases appear to be focused.
The governor has declared a state of emergency, and the Legislature is considering a bill to remove the philosophical vaccine exemption from the law. If the change is approved, Washington will be at least the third state to tighten the restrictions in the last four years. California did it after a measles outbreak there in 2015, and Vermont did so the same year.
It’s worth noting that no state requires children to be vaccinated. Parents, including those in Mississippi, definitely have the option not to vaccinate. However, those who choose that route cannot send their children to public schools and most private schools. Unless a family intends to homeschool their children, the law creates a strong incentive for vaccination.
Vaccine opponents fear the shots - despite all the assurances of their safety by health officials - can cause an unexpected medical reaction in their children. They also question why federal law exempts vaccine manufacturers from liability for their products.
From a public health standpoint, however, this resistance is frustrating and selfish. When one family decides not to vaccinate their kids, it not only exposes them to risk but also others, such as children who are too young to be vaccinated or people of any age with immune disorders that prevent them from being vaccinated.
Even a small percentage of unvaccinated children can have a big impact. In Washington, it took only 4 to 6 percent of children without inoculations to cause about 50 measles cases. That’s because measles is highly contagious. A person can contract the disease just by entering a room for up to two hours after an infected person has left it.
Some of the children whose parents did not get them vaccinated are aware of the problem. The Washington Post reports that “Internet-savvy teenagers are fact-checking their parents’ decisions in a digital health reawakening - and seeking their own treatments in bouts of family defiance.”
Parents should not be too surprised. They taught their children to question authority, so it is perfectly normal for kids to do exactly that - and wonder if their parents got it wrong.
Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC.