On the face of it, you understand what Gov. Haley Barbour has done with across-the-board budget cuts in the face of dwindling sales tax revenues in the last couple of years.
When you dig deeper, though, you see the state is sacrificing its future to stay in the black so Barbour can boast that he kept the state out of debt during his two terms.
In newspapers across the state, stories are appearing about school districts’ resorting to cutting sports programs to keep up with the budget cuts ordered from above.
And that is a real shame.
At Greenville-Weston High School, one of the largest schools in the state, officials are cutting six sports, including tennis, softball and baseball. It will be the only Class 6A school in Mississippi not to have a baseball program.
The negatives are many.
First, some of the kids playing those sports will transfer to private schools just to be able to participate in athletics. That takes away some of the school’s more outstanding students for the sake of a balanced budget.
Second, it is a proven fact that without athletics in a curriculum, many kids will flounder academically while others are using sports as a way up and out of neglectful or detrimental situations. Either way, the schools are hurt by the reduction of the programs.
But the real story, which isn’t being reported, is: For the sake of Barbour’s zealously protected conservative reputation, how many chemistry-program budgets are being slashed?
How many algebra teachers have been laid off?
How many English classes have been combined, making for a higher student-teacher ratio? And what happens to those kids who could have made a “B” instead of a “C” if they would have had a little more individual attention? Maybe they would have earned scholarship money, making it possible for them to go to college.
If education is the answer to everything, including the economic future of Mississippi as Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Commissioner Hank Bounds is famous for saying, then it is time to ask the governor what the real question should be.