Working Group for Early Childhood Learning Meets for 2nd TimeBy Lawayne Childrey | Published 08 Dec 2010 08:25am |
Mississippi remains the only state in the south that does not have a state funded Pre-K program. MPB's Lawayne Childrey reports on what experts from around the country told the Lt. Gov's working group on Early Childhood Learning, about the pros and cons of Mississippi developing it's on pre-k system.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle agree that education is the key to the future of Mississippi. But before they commit to any one plan or plans they are soliciting the expertise of professionals in the field like Dr. Steve Suitts, Vice President of the Southern Education Foundation.
“This is a problem because kids aren’t ready to go to school and what preschool does in a play environment is teach kids how to be ready.”
But, Forest Thigpen, President of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy asks... is it justifiable to have the state invest billions of dollars over time in a system that we don't really know improves childhood education in the long term?
“There are schools that have taken kids at 5th grade who are scoring at the 40th percentile compared to their peers and taken them to the 80th percentile in just four years. There are ways to accomplish success without creating a brand new very expensive early education program.”
Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant supports level funding for K-12 Education, but hopes to encourage more choice, competition and accountability in public schools, to accomplish what a pre-school system would bring..
“If these children are not prepared to go to school, if they dropout in the 9th grade we’re going to lose the workforce that we desperately need in the next decade.”
Suitts says Mississippi has a big problem because it has a larger number of students who have to repeat kindergarten and first grade than any other grade in the elementary system. Lawayne Childrey MPB News.
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