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