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From Gov. Winter’s Mississippi to our education plans
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It’s been a busy stretch for MPB and the executive director’s office, but an exciting one that has put a focus on new projects and recently completed ones. First things first:

The recent screening in the MPB auditorium of “The Toughest Job: William Winter’s Mississippi” was an absolutely fantastic evening. The film was produced by the University of Mississippi’s Southern Documentary Project. In case you haven’t seen the program, which is wonderfully done, you still have an opportunity. It will air again on Oct. 25 and we plan to work with Ole Miss to try to get wider distribution. The best part of the night was seeing the smile on the faces of the attendees, all of whom are as honored to call Gov. Winter friend as I am. The documentary tells an extraordinary story of the governor’s political wins and losses and his arduous but successful fight to bring education reform to Mississippi.

Just before the screening, I made a quick trip to Washington, D.C., for kickoff meetings for public broadcasting stations receiving grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting for the American Graduate program. MPB is one of only 33 public broadcasting stations to receive the grant, which aims to help with dropout prevention. During the next 18 months, the funds will allow us to put on programming across Mississippi to address this problem. Mississippi’s economic standing in the country makes this problem a personal one for me. I want to see our state do better. This grant, which our education department will lead, will enable us to assist the Mississippi Department of Education and others.

Speaking of education, our team here is in the process of working with Mississippi First as early childhood education initiatives are being developed. Mississippi First, with a combination of legislative and community funding, is working on early childhood initiatives across the state with the mission of helping youngsters get an earlier start in the learning process. We have big plans for this collaboration and will be talking more about this as this partnership develops.

Since education seems to be my theme here, the last item I’ll mention is my new volunteer role as chairman of the Mississippi Council on Economic Education. It’s an organization that takes its mission seriously. For the past 12 years, MCEE has focused on ensuring that all Mississippi students are exposed to some form of economic education. MCEE’s mission is not so different from many of our efforts here at MPB.

While MPB’s education department focuses on early childhood learning initiatives and dropout prevent, the council on economic education fills the gap of teaching economic literacy in a state that desperately needs to develop its students so that they in turn become contributors to our society. I have been associated with MCEE since its inception, as it was a favorite organization of the late Bill Hunsberger, publisher of The Clarion-Ledger. When I was asked to serve as chairman, I was honored to accept on behalf of my friend Bill, who passed away unexpectedly in 2004. I was equally honored to serve as editor of the paper when he so passionately in the early days worked to build MCEE into the organization that it is today.