While perusing the Mississippi Department of Education’s budget presentation for the 2019 Fiscal Year, I noticed several items that will make citizens proud. Our graduation rate has never been higher, and statewide assessments indicate two consecutive years of better scores. Yet we must acknowledge that our state’s school systems still face significant challenges. Mississippi’s eleventh graders averaged a meager 18 composite on the ACT, and we have far too many districts that do not prepare their students for success in college, or equip them with the skills needed to work immediately after high school. (I’m also somewhat disheartened that the document lists full MAEP formula funding as a legislative goal. I’d love for that to happen, obviously, but it’s simply not a political reality, and putting it in the presentation highlights the disconnect between MDE and the legislature.)
Clearly, your adult leaders could serve you more capably. I’d like to invite you to consider Mississippi’s problems with education as legislators prepare for the opening of the next session. After all, you’ve seen those systems from the inside out. How do we fix broken school systems? How should we deal with districts that repeatedly underserve their students? What do we want schools to teach students?