Mississippi’s top education official says possible changes to the school funding should be student focused.
Education is typically among the most controversial topics during the legislative session, and this year may be no exception.
Lawmakers have contracted with New Jersey-based EdBuild to review Mississippi’s education funding formula, and any move to change the formula will likely create a tremendous amount of debate.
But State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright says there are some things she would like to see changed.
“I’ve got a district on the coast that says he’s got 14 percent of his population that are English language learners. When I was doing my Superintendent’s tour, I had a Superintendent say I don’t even have, not one. Yet we send them the same kinds of money. Under a weighted student formula, it would give them the additional money they need to pay for those additional services. I’m hoping that’s what comes out of EdBuild.”
There have also been concerns by public education advocates that changing the state’s public school funding formula may lead to a possible voucher program.
“There are some children, based on where they live, who will not be able to take advantage of choice,” says Wright. “Simply because they don’t have the transportation to get there or they don’t have good schools very near there. Even those that could, pulling those kids out, then you’re left with a pocket of children that need an awful lot of help. So my concern would be an equity issue.”
If Mississippi wants to see real gains in education, Wright says the state needs to focus on increasing pre-K funding and more professional development for teachers.