By Sun Herald, Gulfport/Biloxi
Mississippi taxpayers will be paying for remedial education for generations to come unless the state adopts comprehensive and compulsory early childhood education.
That requires both the commitment and the money to put pre-kindergarten programs into every Mississippi school district.
During the current legislative session, three top state officials are making timid moves to teach children at their most impressionable age.
As The Associated Press’ Jeff Amy reported, Gov. Phil Bryant is asking the Legislature to provide state money to Mississippi Building Blocks, a private group that has been paying for teachers to mentor instructors in child care centers and teach some classes. The governor’s plan differs from one supported by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, which would provide a limited form of state-funded pre-kindergarten programs. Their proposal would allow local consortiums to get state money to provide classes.
While each is a step in the right direction, neither approach rises to the level of a mandatory, statewide system of pre-kindergarten education.
If Gov. Bryant is itching to take on the federal government, we urge him to set his sights on Head Start, which despite isolated examples of success, failed a recent federal examination of its effectiveness.
Why not put those federal funds into a pre-kindergarten program run by the state’s public school districts? Such a program could still engage the private sector in an effort to improve the learning capacity of our youngest students.
Sun Herald, Biloxi//Gulfport