Together we can lose negative title

Published 10:48 pm Wednesday, September 26, 2007

In the latest national education story released this week Mississippi got a new title — “chief laggard.”

It’s quite a descriptive term for our great state, but it’s one that won’t be easy to shake.

This time around the category Mississippi lags behind in is education. America’s children are scoring higher and higher on reading and math portions of standardized tests, but not in Mississippi.

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Louisiana is also at the bottom of the pile, only a step ahead of the magnolia state.

Though No Child Left Behind demands an impossible task — that all students perform at grade level — it’s still the measure of accountability our nation uses. And it’s still the goal.

Titles like “chief laggard” should make every Mississippian sit up and take notice. Education is everyone’s business, and we won’t overcome our low scores without attention from everyone.

Teachers and parents of children in public schools are on the front lines, but they can’t stand alone. Church leaders, businessmen, community members and parents of students in private schools must stand behind them.

Public schools need public support, and Mississippi and Louisiana will never crawl out of the cellar without a full-citizen attack.

As laggards, we have further to go, more work to do. But what the national journalists don’t realize is that our states are strong, and if anyone can do it, we can.

Education needs full governmental funding, students need academic attention from every adult they pass and the community needs to think and speak positively about the work going on in our schools.

Together we can trade the negative title for a new one — chief achievers.