Summer might be here, but the issue of education is on the minds of many of us in Mississippi.
In late June, the Mississippi Press Association annual convention on the Coast will host former Gov. William Winter for an address on how the state’s media covered the Education Reform Act of 1982. Journalists played an important part in building popular support for the landmark legislation, which moved education in the state to a new level. However, as significant as that legislation has been, Mississippi must do more.
Most of our public school teachers are still underpaid, overworked and spend too much time handling situations which have little to do with teaching.
Too many of our children lack the resources they need to learn. Impoverished home environments, poor nutrition and limited social development are impeding the learning process, and thousands of students are two years behind when they show up for kindergarten.
And many parents in Mississippi either don’t care about education or are having to work so hard to pay the rent and buy groceries that they aren’t reading to their kids, aren’t helping with homework and are leaving it to teachers, coaches and administrators to rear their children.
But perhaps the greatest stumbling block is that far too many Mississippians do not value education. Reveling in blissful ignorance and ridiculing achievement will not produce the knowledge workers a global economy demands. Embracing education, workforce training and lifelong learning is the only way to move Mississippi forward.
Education has long been the way out of poverty in our state — for those who learn the value of a good education and are encouraged to succeed in school. Spreading this gospel is a job for all of us working for a better Mississippi.