Cost of shorting schools too great

Published 5:00 am Friday, April 8, 2005

Dear Editor,

As chair of the Mississippi Board of Education, I am gravelyconcerned over the funding situation for public education inMississippi. Teachers and students are working very hard every dayto raise the level of achievement and their efforts are paying off.The results of last year’s state tests confirm that we are on theright track. Across almost every grade and subject, studentachievement has improved both in percentages of students scoringproficient and above, and in the average test score.

The Mississippi Board of Education, the Mississippi Departmentof Education and local school districts have demonstrated aconsistent and effective commitment to implementing both state andfederal legislation designed to promote student achievement. In the2003-04 school year, based on a model of achievement and growth, 90percent of our schools were rated successful, exemplary orsuperior-performing. Two years into the No Child Left Behind Act,76 percent of our school have met the Adequate Yearly Progressrequirement.

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Each day, teachers, students and administrators face numerouschallenges inherent in education children and continuing to raisestudent achievement. Having the resources necessary to complete thetask before them should not be one of those challenges. It is thestate’s role and responsibility, as well as moral obligation, toprovide an education to each of its children so that they canpursue their dreams and lead productive, fulfilling lives.

The Mississippi Adequate Education Program must be funded fully.We cannot afford to do otherwise. When the formula is not fullyfunded, it loses its integrity and no longer provides adequate andequitable funding to all school districts. The continuation of theprogress that our students have been building on for the past fewyears requires us to provide our schools with the necessaryresources. We must work to provide all of our students with astrong education, regardless of the affluence of their neighborhoodor community. The cost of doing less would be far too great foreither our state or our children to bear.

Rosetta L. Richard, chairwoman

Mississippi Board of Education