Mississippi Association of Educators launch Raise Mississippi initiative

Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 7:25 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -We’re still five months out from the start of the 2024 legislative session. But some groups are getting their requests in early, including how they’d like to see the state spend money for education.

”Like all parents, I want what is best for my children,” said parent Graham Carner. “All parents do what is best for their children. And that includes a quality education that offers vast opportunities to nurture a lifelong love of learning.”

That’s why Graham Carner wants to be part of the new “Raise Mississippi” initiative that’s designed to refocus the conversation around public schools and how they’ll ultimately shape Mississippi’s workforce.

“Our schools are the engine of our economy, and over 90% of students in Mississippi attend public schools. Mississippi future doctors, future teachers, future innovators are sitting in a classroom today throughout Mississippi,” explained Erica Jones, Mississippi Association of Educators President. “That’s why it is going to be so important that we invest in our public schools.”

And there are voices from the faith and business community chiming in to tell lawmakers.

“We want to let them know that we will not be silent,” said Jackson businessman Leroy Walker. “There’s no more precious resource than our children. Alongside our faith communities, public schools form the very foundation, our children need to learn to thrive and to grow into the adults who will raise Mississippi and lead us towards a bright future.”

This panel explains that their request goes beyond the school funding formula known as the Mississippi Adequate Education Program or MAEP.

“But what, in fact, will our children need to be able to focus and to participate in a 21st Century economy as these business leaders and parents and others talk about? We all want our children to be successful,” described Oleta Fitzgerald, Children’s Defense Fund Regional Director.

They’d like those policymakers to instead think about “smart funding” that makes sure every student and every school gets what they need to succeed, from updated technology to school support staff and facility improvements.

The panelists note that they hear candidates talk about this issue of education and workforce going hand in hand. And they want to make sure it stays at the top of their agenda.

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