Education Reform in Mississippi: Hopes and Possibilities

Marion Herbert's picture
Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Substantial educational change will never occur in Mississippi until its citizens decide that enough is enough and make a commitment to change, no matter what it takes.

Over the last 15 years, I have hoped and prayed that my home state would fix the systematic issues that plague its public schools, but to no avail. I know what it takes for workers to compete in the global economy and we simply are not cutting the mustard.

The infrastructures of many schools in Mississippi are no longer able to meet the educational needs of students today. No longer are the Mississippi poor restricted to the prospect of becoming manual laborers in a local factory or simply entering just another blue-collar job. Nor are the benefits of education confined to the elite in society. Times have changed and it would be only natural to expect that the demands on our education system have changed as well.

I do not doubt that there are exceptional schools in Mississippi. In fact, I have worked for several of them. However, this is the exception to the rule, rather than the norm. We all know what happens to students who leave high school without basic skills. More often than not, they fall prey to a cycle of generational poverty, underachievement and possibly incarceration.

My critiques are not meant to bash my home state and its K-12 educational system; my aim is to issue it a no holds barred wake up call. Collectively, our educational system cannot get any worse, so why deny charter schools the right to come in and mix things up a bit? I do not endorse making rash decisions, but I also do not condone sitting idly by and expecting for our system to magically get better.

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