Mississippi’s Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves announced a plan last week that would raise K-12 state spending by $110 million over last year, but would not fully fund the public schools in the state. Even with the requested rise in money allocated for K-12 schools, more than $256 million would still be unfunded based on the Mississippi Department of Education’s $2.8 billion budget proposal.
An amendment initiative in the state known as Initiative 42 would require state legislators to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, also known as MAEP, every year. Since the MAEP passed in 1997, it has only been completely funded twice. That would change if Initiative 42 passes when it appears on the general election ballot in November.
I appreciate the Lt. Gov. Reeve’s stance to try to funnel more funds to public schools, but clearly there is still too big a deficit in what is needed and what is being provided. Lt. Gov. Reeves says that once Mississippi’s economy improves, so will the funding to the schools—but at what point do we make our K-12 funding THE priority, and not just something that happens after every other state bill has been paid?
Underfunding the state’s education budget by $256 million is certainly not the way to improve public school classrooms and bring Mississippi up from the bottom of the nation’s student achievement rankings. With citizens who have fewer resources and higher poverty levels than other states, it is more important than ever to fully fund what is needed in the public schools and support real change in the lives of this generation of K-12 students.
The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.