PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Why aren’t we talking about it?

By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal

Why doesn’t Tupelo have universal early childhood education? We’ve built our reputation on being such a vanguard.
Oh, sure, it’s about money and politics and competition for existing businesses, although few of these claim to do much more than babysit.
It’s clear that a statewide program won’t be enacted any time soon, with the deep financial challenges faced by the Legislature.
Clearly, if Tupelo wants a universal childhood education program, the money isn’t coming from Jackson.
And so, what happens?
The good news is that Tupelo’s school system has a small early-childhood education program housed at the King School. It serves about 220 students.
It’s funded by federal education money linked to how many local students qualify for free lunches. And earlier this year, a private group raised $100,000 to keep it going.
The flip side of that coin is that perhaps 400 more Tupelo children could benefit from a universal program.
This past year’s election results reflected widespread discontent with economic conditions.
We want jobs, good jobs, voters told their candidates. Economic developers tell us that good jobs don’t come where adequate educational attainment doesn’t exist.
Many of today’s unemployed people could fill job openings, but they lack the educational achievement to qualify.
Ironically, you can run for governor in Mississippi without a high school education but you can’t get a good job without one. And more and more, it’s college attainments that make a difference for job-seekers.
But today, many of our children have maxxed out of educational capabilities by Middle School. Or they fail and fail courses until they just quit, with few prospects except public assistance.
We hear complaints that many of our high school students are bored by their sophomore years and have so little initiative that they exit to avoid the work associated with minimal senior projects. You know, I can’t even imagine my mother tolerating that kind of behavior from me.
Today’s education world clearly is in a state of flux. But the sciences and our own brains tell us that the better children are prepared for school – at a very early age – the greater their chances are for success.
And when these students are successful in school, they are ready for success in the greater world.
While generally, no one is talking about rolling our sleeves up, biting the bullet and finding the finances for early childhood education in Tupelo, perhaps it’s time to do so.
I’d pay a little more taxes to make my city a better place for everybody.
A better education system also may be a key to stopping outward-bound population.
Why aren’t we beyond talking about this and doing something?
Does the emperor have no clothes?

Contact Patsy R. Brumfield at (662) 678-1596 or patsy.brumfield@djournal.com.