CATEGORY: EDT Editorials
Doing right by public education never stops as an issue for debate in the Capitol and as a topic of serious concern among education professionals and lay supporters at the local level.
Mississippi's schools 500,000 children from kindergarten through grade 12 always revolve around one overriding issue: Money. Our state never has had provided enough money to ensure an adequate education statewide. Too many local districts either don't have enough tax base or refuse to levy enough millage to provide adequate education quality. The notable successes of individual students and a handful of districts happen despite adequate statewide and local funding. Those exceptions, while reflecting deserved credit in the efforts of local systems and individuals, don't make a reasoned case for running schools with less-than-adequate funding.
Mississippi, after several years of fast-growing revenues, faces relative austerity for the 1996-97 budget cycle. Legislators correctly approach the 1997 budget with caution and conservatism.
However, legislators, the governor and lieutenant governor already have a blueprint the statewide Adequate Education Program upon which to plan and perhaps write even better laws for enactment in 1997-98 or 1998-99. Those who claim golden opportunities to fund the Adequate Education Program passed in 1995 have been missed back their arguments with revenue figures. Politics, however, dictated different uses for available funds.
The future may dictate a different kind of politics because federal funding the money that keeps Mississippi from being dead last in per pupil spending nationwide would drop under prevailing congressional policy. That means Mississippi must prepare to tackle the issue of adequacy because it will become more pressing in additional districts.