Mississippi’s legislature has allocated $100 million toward education on top of the usual education budget. Public school advocacy groups say this will help schools but won’t go as far as fully funding education in the state.
Mississippi's legislature did not fully fund education, but did provide $100 million for schools
Public education in Mississippi received a lot of attention throughout the 2023 legislative session, including bills to protect students, grow early childhood education, and fund local school improvement projects. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program, MAEP, is a program lawmakers use to invest toward education equity. But Erica Jones with the Mississippi Association of Educators says it has only been fully funded twice in 25 years.
“If MAEP was fully funded, our educators would have the necessary resources that they need on a day-to-day basis,” says Jones. “Materials such as pencils, notebook paper, and updated technology are some of the things that they need, and we know if the money is allocated for public education, those are things that can be purchased.”
Members of Mississippi’s Senate did pass legislation to rework the formula and fully fund MAEP. But Speaker of the House Philip Gunn claims the formula is too complicated and chose to block the funding. Instead, $100 million are being allocated this year to be spent at the discretion of district leadership. Nancy Loome with the Parents Campaign says this limits the ability of schools in low-income areas to provide the same opportunities as facilities in more wealthy communities.
“Despite that, our students who live in poverty are outperforming their peers who also live in poverty in other states,” says Loome. “So the teachers are doing some pretty amazing work, but the discrepancies still are there, and it is terribly, terribly unfair to those children.”
Bills were also passed this year to get automatic defibrillators into school buildings as well as allow teachers to carry firearms under special licensing.