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Our View: Time to take Mississippi’s education crisis seriously

The recent oversight by the Mississippi Department of Education and lawmakers illustrates there’s still a long way to go before the state’s educational crisis is taken seriously.

When the state legislature announced it failed to appropriate enough funds to provide much-needed raises to educators who focus on the students needing the most attention, residents were rightfully outraged. Oxford and Lafayette County Schools alone were shorted almost $200,000 out of a total of $14 billion.

That’s $200,000 our special education, gifted and career-technical teachers are deprived of, in a state where approximately 75 percent of students will enter the workforce after graduating high school.

Oxford and Lafayette County are lucky enough to be two of the highest-performing school districts in the state and have both pledged to make up for the state’s shortcomings in time. It’s a call they shouldn’t have to make, one that will leave major holes in their operating budgets, which cover salaries, utility bills and more. It’s not an easy error to correct and, as LCSD Superintendent Adam Pugh told the EAGLE, it will be a “huge hit” to the district.

Being perennially in last place has become a punchline for too long. It’s up to us, the constituents, to do more. Our children are the future, and they deserve an education they can not only be proud of, but will also lead to a quality career at a livable wage in-state.

There’s a variety of ways to add value to our schools where public education funding falls short. Local business owners can partner with schools on student internships and job shadowing. They can donate machinery for students to learn to work on, equipping them with a valuable skill straight out of the gate.

Parents, take a more active role in your child’s school district. Attend public meetings, volunteer as you’re able and take time to invest in your child’s education right at home.

Most importantly, don’t forget every citizen’s ultimate power: the right to vote. This election year, pay close attention to candidates’ stances on education, and decide for yourselves if it’s acceptable. Remember this $14 billion mistake at the polls and do your part to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

It’s time for voters to stop accepting the ‘one step forward, two steps back’ approach, especially when it comes to educating Mississippi’s children.