Put Education at the Top of the List
By Bill Luckett
Mississippi needs public-provided early childhood education beginning no later than age three. An aligned curriculum from three-year-old Pre-K through the third grade with proper teacher development should be instituted. As many writers have expressed, in the early years you “learn to read” and after the third grade you “read to learn.”
Mississippi’s problems with poverty and its high unemployment will be greatly alleviated if we would dedicate the time and resources to make this happen. Reliable statistics bear me out –– along with Louisiana, Mississippi has the highest rate of incarceration of any jurisdiction in the world.
The third grade reading level is an uncannily accurate predictor of prison bed needs. Mississippi spends almost three times as much per year per prisoner as it spends per year per student. We seem to chip away at the problems, but we need to make substantial changes in the system.
We should dramatically reduce summer vacations (making them as little as two-three weeks), we should institute Saturday morning school for those who are below average in their classes, and we should insist on longer school days.
Additionally, we must instill in the parents of young children the value that a good education brings to our society. A good education will allow for more people to lead productive lives with a higher quality of life and will result in moving large numbers of people off of welfare and into becoming tax-paying hardworking citizens.
Let’s put a quality education for all of our citizens at the top of the list.