Is state-sponsored pre-k the solution for Mississippi?

What would help the children of Mississippi, which has test scores that are consistently among the nation’s worst? The Hechinger Report and Time magazine have partnered to take a long look at the state’s performance and try to find some answers and solutions.

From Hechinger editor Liz Willen’s first piece in the ongoing series:

Although neighboring states have made great strides in early education, Mississippi remains the only state in the South—and just one of 11 in the country—that doesn’t fund any pre-k programs.

Failure to prepare children for school costs the state a lot of money. One of every 14 kindergarteners and one of every 15 first-graders in Mississippi repeated the school year in 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available. From 1999 to 2008, the state spent $383 million on children who had to repeat kindergarten or first grade, according to the Southern Education Foundation.

Willen recently joined a panel of experts with strong views on the topic to discuss why the largely poor and rural state consistently lags behind in education, and what approaches might improve the future of Mississippi’s schoolchildren. Some believe that state-sponsored pre-k would be a great place to start, while others insist that the answer lies with families and churches.

The forum was broadcast on Jackson State University television.


POSTED BY ON August 15, 2012

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Danny J. Spreitler

Nita said it best, we must adopt a culture that values education. How much can we expect from parents who graduated from an education system that has consistently ranked at the bottom? Every child in MS deserves a high quality Pre-K program but the burden cannot be borne by the taxpayers nor should children be placed in under-performing school districts. One has to spend just a few moments looking at the statewide estimates of children under five with developmental delays, speech i ssues etc. to understand that we are asking a bit much for parents to fully prepare their children for tomorrow’s classroom. Collaborative partnerships exist currently and they should be expanded. Hopefully, as this series continues, Liz and her team will see many of the great things that are happening throughout the state.

LBH

Preparing children for school entry begins at birth. Mississippi has made great progress in the last few years in collaborative efforts between child care centers, Head Start and public schools. Most of the state’s young children are in some type of child care setting and it is important that teachers receive quality training and classrooms/centers offer quality curriculum. Mississippi has developed curriculum guidelines for children from birth to age five. The state must find a way to help early childhood teachers implement the guidelines. Head Start has been the state’s premier early childhood program for years and the state can be proud of that fact. Collaboration is the name of the game in a state with little legislative support for a stand alone Pre-K program.

[...] new conversation about pre-k is emerging in Mississippi as citizens examine the reasons behind the state’s woeful [...]

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