State should look at school plan

Published 12:00 am Saturday, March 4, 2006

A recently released study urging Mississippi to revamp its funding formula for public schools comes as no surprise to anyone who pays attention to public education in the state.

The Rural School and Community Trust compared Mississippi&8217;s lowest-achieving school districts with other districts in the state and found that academically struggling schools were more likely to have students eligible for free or reduced meals or from households in poverty.

Mississippi is one of 40 states that try to tip the balance in education funding toward poorer, at-risk districts, but it allots a smaller percentage than other states do.

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What&8217;s more, Mississippi has only fully funded its adequate education program &8212; MAEP &8212; one time since it was introduced eight years ago.

Money is not the only answer to better education, but it is one important factor in improved academics. But so are parental involvement, quality teachers and an attitude that won&8217;t accept less than the best.

Mississippi should look at its funding formula to make it more fair to poorer districts, but it should also look at the more intangible ways to improve education.

But those problems can&8217;t be solved by legislation alone. They need help from communities, from parents, from all of us.