State of Our Schools

The Daily Journal will take a two-year-long look at Mississippi’s public schools, their performance and the policy debate over how to improve the system.

The series will consider the complex fabric of such issues as poverty, race and family structure that are interconnected with education. As the Legislature embarks on school reform efforts, we will analyze the myriad of deep issues affecting Mississippi’s public schools with the hope of better informing a comprehensive debate.

Topics covered include (in order of publication from most recent): State of Pre-K, Examining the Common Core, Impact of Poverty and Family Structure, Teacher Quality, Literacy Education, Florida Reform Model/ Mississippi Legislative Agenda and Overview/ History of Mississippi’s Schools.


SUNDAY, Nov. 16, 2014

 Laying the foundation: Growing effort focuses on years before kindergarten

Politics of pre-K evolves but money still scarce

State of Our Schools: Pre-K studies

State of Our Schools: Comparison of state pre-K programs

State of Our Schools: Pre-K spending

State of Our Schools: Kindergarten readiness

Editorial: Mississippi wastes minds in many pre-K children

MONDAY, Nov. 17, 2014

Choosing quality: Indicators can help parents find top-caliber care

Nationally certified program structured to support student needs

State of Our Schools: Choosing Quality

TUESDAY, Nov. 18, 2014

Ensuring quality: Mississippi lacks standard measure for child care

Tupelo center in voluntary quality-improvement program

Mississippi initiative assists child care programs

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 19, 2014

Improving access: Many who could benefit from pre-K do not attend

Tupelo emphasizes strong pre-K program

Excel By 5 helps communities support pre-K

THURSDAY, Nov. 20, 2014

 Preparing pupils: Kindergarten readiness sets stage for future learning

 Gilmore program becomes statewide model

 State of Our Schools: What does ‘prepared’ mean?

 State of Our Schools: GELI data



SUNDAY, Jan. 5, 2014

Game changer? Advocates hail Common Core as pivotal for Mississippi students

Common Core causes split in Republican ranks

Common Core inside the classroom: The Daily Journal observed four classrooms in which teachers gave “Common Core aligned” lessons and later spoke about the difference between the new standards and the current state framework:

Kindergarten: ‘I’m laying the foundation here’

Fifth grade: More emphasis on writing, thinking, listening

 Eighth grade: Students must analyze author’s craft

High school: Real-world examples enhance math


LLOYD GRAY: Back to schools: The next chapter

EDITORIAL: Students should benefit from Common Core


MONDAY, Jan. 6, 2014

Common Core exams will be much different from today’s assessments

Common Core will allow more school comparisons




SUNDAY, Sept. 29, 2013

‘Enormous effects’: Poverty, family structure imprint Mississippi’s education fabric

LLOYD GRAY: Behind the data, children

BLOG: School rankings breakdown

MONDAY, Sept. 30, 2013

Understanding poverty: Obstacles, crises affect families, children’s education

Teaching strategies can reach low-income students

Mom, school, work: Conley beat the odds

New knowledge, new habits and a way out of poverty

EDITORIAL: We must do better by students in poverty

TUESDAY, Oct. 1, 2013

Changing families: Number of state’s single mothers rises rapidly

Connecting parents, schools can be a challenge

Education a ‘team sport,’ but parents can’t always help

BLOG: Single family statistics

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 2, 2013

‘Still too high’: State sees progress on teen births, but much work remains

Mississippi teens more sexually active

Success possible, but harder, for teen mothers

Teen parenting: Making the best of a rocky road

Some programs help teenage mothers finish their education

THURSDAY, Oct. 3, 2013

Sex education debate: Teaching about contraception is a key divide

Most parents support sex education in schools

Some churches take on the ‘awkward conversation’

FRIDAY, Oct. 4, 2013

Cost gap: Agencies help schools provide for those in need

Grandparents face school-related challenges

EDITORIAL: Sex education need is a matter of reality

SATURDAY, Oct. 5, 2013

‘Full-court press’: Economic, social challenges require deliberate action

Legislature focuses on education reform

Summer loss hits students in poverty harder




SUNDAY, April 14, 2013

Teachers: Quest for the best: Higher prestige, pay critical to attract brightest to profession

Legislature strengthens teacher standards

Regional teacher pay average still eludes Mississippi

LLOYD GRAY: Start with the teachers

MONDAY, April 15, 2013

Preparing teachers: Subject-area knowledge, use of data gain importance

Universities collaborate on honors-style teacher training

EDITORIAL: State must attract, retain top teachers

TUESDAY, April 16, 2013

Programs recruit top college graduates to teach

Prospective teachers have different ways into classrooms


Towle discovered passion for teaching during studies at Harvard (MTC)

Early lesson draws Moss to education field (TFA)

Mom had the right idea (alternate route)

Art program plants seed (alternate route)

Reporter still gets recognized (alternate rote)

WEDNESDAY, April 17, 2013

Leadership matters: Strong principals help attract great teachers

Some districts have critical teacher needs

Mississippi develops new teacher evaluation

THURSDAY, April 18, 2013

Top performing teachers share common attributes

Profiles of top-performing teachers:

Teresa Ware: Great chemistry = excellent teaching

Sandra Magers: Veteran teacher says never stop learning

Angela Harris: New teacher combines best practices, passion for learning

FRIDAY, April 19, 2013

Schools, administrators struggle to retain teachers, prevent burnout

Retirement system provides perk for teachers



SUNDAY, Feb. 17, 2013

Improving literacy: Mississippi’s reading efforts must be informed by the past

LLOYD GRAY: Literacy is the foundation

 BLOG: Literacy instruction: Are Mississippians too nice?

MONDAY, Feb. 18, 2013

Coaching literacy: Barksdale Institute emphasizes strong principals


TUESDAY, Feb. 19, 2013

Teaching literacy – Instruction methods lack consistency statewide


WEDNESDAY, Feb. 20, 2013

 Lacking literacy: Poor readers populate state’s prisons

Pro-social education helps offenders re-enter society


THURSDAY, Feb. 21, 2013

Achieving literacy: Some students slip through cracks on traditional path



SUNDAY, Jan. 6, 2013

Education to get Legislature’s focus

MONDAY, Jan. 7, 2013

EDITORIAL: Schools need more than charter law


SUNDAY, Jan. 13, 2013

Is Florida the model? Mississippi’s leaders take a cue from the Sunshine State

Reading initiative tops Florida import list

EDITORIAL: Legislators’ constituency is with public education

LLOYD GRAY: A Model in Context

BLOG: Florida Model links

 BLOG: Mississippi Legislative Education Committees likely will be busy soon



SUNDAY, Dec. 16, 2012

A new wave of reform? 30 years after historic effort, state’s schools still lag
Bold act made education top priority
LLOYD GRAY: Where to from here?
EDITORIAL: The Education Reform Act of 1982 raised our vision
BLOG: Legacy of the Education Reform Act

MONDAY, Dec. 17, 2012
’82 act didn’t end education push
MAEP designed to level the field
Subcommittee drama saved MAEP
EDITORIAL: MAEP a critical education milestone