Full funding of schools makes sense

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Former Netscape CEO Jim Barksdale put his money where his mouth is on Tuesday: He offered the state $50 million to help reward students who graduate from high school reading at the proper grade level.

But his offer comes with a catch: To get the money, the state has to fully fund education.

It’s an ultimatum, but a smart one.

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And if lawmakers were smart, they’d listen to Barksdale not just because he’s offering money but because of what he represents.

Here is a successful businessman &045; a former chief operating officer for FedEx in addition to his time at Netscape &045; and he’s telling legislators that education is essential to the economic success of our state.

Barksdale is literally banking on educational investments to help turn Mississippi around.

He and his wife have already given millions to establish the Barksdale Reading Institute, which has helped children across the state &045; and in the Natchez-Adams School District.

Our governor and legislators have got to start understanding that education is an investment. When we have successful business leaders telling you how important it is to improve education, that should tell us something about the importance business and industry place on education as a foundation for economic development.

Lawmakers need to consider his request &045; not because it’s an ultimatum, but because it simply makes good sense.