Researchers at two universities teamed up with the Albert Shanker Institute to determine what it would cost individual school districts across the country to bring their students to the national average in student achievement. They considered things like cost of living, poverty rates, labor costs, and enrollment to figure the total estimate, then compared that predicted cost to actual state and local funding to determine the adequacy of resources in each school district.
For Mississippi, the news wasn’t good. In FY2020, the most recent year for which data is available, only eight school districts were considered to have sufficient funding to move their students to the national average academically, according to the School Finance Indicators Database, and that “sufficiency” was due largely to local taxes. What’s most alarming about the study is the degree to which Mississippi lags neighboring states when it comes to the adequacy of school funding – a full 20 percentage points behind the regional average.
Mississippi teachers have defied these odds and, remarkably, despite insufficient school funding, have managed to move Mississippi students to the national average in fourth-grade reading and math. Ironically, some of the same politicians who are campaigning on this success are planning, if re-elected, to shift funding away from our public schools and into private voucher schools.
That’s why your vote in this election is so important. Please urge every public school supporter you know to get to the polls on November 7 and vote for candidates who share their public education values.
Though Mississippi public schools have seen strong improvement on some national measures, outcomes on state measures of academic proficiency vary widely among school districts, and the adequacy of funding appears to play a significant role. Most of our public schools are doing truly incredible work and are outperforming their funding levels by wide margins. But the level of sufficiency in funding for individual districts tracks closely with proficiency rates. This tells us two things:
- Our students deserve full MAEP funding, which has an equity provision that would greatly reduce the funding discrepancies among school districts if funded appropriately. When the MAEP is underfunded, wealthier districts can make up the difference with local taxes. The students in lower wealth districts are simply out of luck.
- It is absolutely critical that on November 7, you vote for candidates who support fully funding PUBLIC schools!
Elections matter, and you proved that in 2019. Changes in Senate leadership and nine House seats as a result of that election created a pro-public school sea-change that got us headed in a better direction. Four years ago, successful candidates campaigned on support for public schools and proved their mettle in the first legislative session of the term, overriding Gov. Reeves’ veto of public school funding. Since then we’ve seen a historic teacher pay raise, increased funding for pre-k, and more money for teacher supplies. But the previous eight years (2012-2019) were so horrendously bad that we still have a long way to go to ensure that every Mississippi student in every Mississippi school district has the resources necessary to realize his or her potential and to pay teachers a professional salary.
Anyone age 65 or older, and those who can’t get to the polls on election day, should vote absentee by noon Saturday at their County Circuit Clerk’s office. Circuit Clerk’s offices are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and will be open this Saturday, November 4, from 8 a.m. to noon, the last day to vote absentee in person.
Over the next five days, be sure to:
- Check your voter registration (word is that lots of voters have been removed from the rolls)
- Find your polling place
- Review candidate’s opinions about public school issues on our Candidate Q&A
- Vote absentee by noon Saturday at your Circuit Clerk’s office if you’re 65 or older or can’t get to the polls next Tuesday
- Forward this email to 5 friends and ask them to join you at the polls
- Text, email, or call family and friends and urge them to vote for public school supporters
We’ve come too far to back up now. Please be sure to vote for public school supporters on November 7. And take a couple of friends or family with you. Let’s pull out all the stops and show our kids and teachers that we’ve got their backs.
We’ve done it before, and we can do it again – together, we’ve got this!