Bringing Mohammed to the Mountain

There’s an old saying that if you can’t bring the mountain to Mohammed, bring Mohammed to the mountain. The Mississippi legislature will apply an understanding of that notion this session when it deals with the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. The MAEP mandates funding levels for schools across the state; the legislature has not consistently met those levels because there hasn’t been enough money to do so, and because the state’s leaders lack the political willpower to raise taxes. (In fact, now that the GOP has a supermajority, plans for tax cuts–in a state that hasn’t adequately funded education or infrastructure in decades–are practically a certainty.)

Because the legislature does not want to fund education using the formula it passed in 1997, and because it it politically unpalatable for legislators to look like enemies of education, I predict it will simply change the funding formula in this legislative session. That way, legislators can say, “Look! We funded education fully by the formula! We’re giving schools everything they need!”

Determining what schools really need, of course, is the sticking point. On the one hand, Mississippi passed an historic pay raise for teachers last year; on the other, teacher salaries here are still $14,000 below the national average, and only four states spend less than Mississippi per pupil. Mississippi also has an inordinately large number of chronically underperforming districts. How should they be fixed? How can we know we aren’t throwing good money after bad? How do conversations about race inform the way we think about educational funding?

In the meantime, a quick RIP to rock star David Bowie, who has gone to join heroes on the other side. B.B. King last May, Allan Toussaint in November, Bowie now. What will happen to music?

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6 Responses to Bringing Mohammed to the Mountain

  1. Baili Zhong says:

    Taking into account the state’s rank as 50th in national student achievement, one could argue following in the steps of Finland, Singapore, and Ontario to advance our educational system. Since 1997, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program has only been fully funded four times- a $1.7-billion loss to every Mississippian students’ right to adequate education. In average teacher salary, Ms is 49th with 50% of teachers leaving the profession in the first five years. Investing in the next generations’ livelihoods is a crucial step to expanding potential and having the most-respected, caring, and well-paid teachers would be a grand first step in the direction of top academically ranked countries. Furthermore, having more merit based teacher pay and qualified Mississippi Board of Education members who have a great educational background would greatly improve the educational system (maybe retired teachers). Furthermore, passing Initiative 42 (not A) would have ensured complete funding for all districts. Including free pre-k programs for all students would be another great step in the right direction too.

  2. Vivian Van says:

    If all that the legislature is concerned about is that they technically fully funded education, then they are not looking/planning ahead for the long run. If you do not invest into the newer generation to excel later on in life, you are setting up your state/country up for failure. Most of these underperforming districts usually contain mostly unmotivated students. Let’s be blunt, most kids do not care about an education. Teachers need to be encouraging kids to making them interested in what they are learning and to continue learning.

    • Mayukh Datta says:

      Vivian, the lack of motivation in children in holistic in schools across Mississippi and the United States. However, all the supporters of this legislature just want to show that adequate funding for schools is active. As Dr. Easterling said, “That way, the legislators can say,’Look… We are giving school fully what they need.”‘ As I said before, the lack of motivation for students is holistic in students across America; therefore, the only persons that can do anything to increase the level of motivation are the teachers. So, paying low salaries for teachers will only cause them to not teach. For example, Holmes county pays teachers some of the lowest salaries, and that is because Holmes county receives little to no funding. Additionally, the quality of equipment such as lab equipment or computers is very low in counties such as Holmes.

      • Jenny Nguyen says:

        Even in districts that pay relatively high salaries, students are still unmotivated. I think students’ motivation depends on a number of factors. Surely, a teacher’s passion for his/her subject ignites the student’s interest, but it is just not that simple. At my home school, we had classrooms with teachers that students always tried to avoid. In those classrooms were teachers who simply taught for the salary. There was no interest or care that was given to the student, so students, in turn, have no motivation to learn. It’s difficult to foster an interest for learning if a student has to attend classes with little to no stimulation.

  3. Laurel Yarborough says:

    I think the best way to motivate a student is through their parents. I think one way to have more motivated parents is to raise the current generation to become those motivated parents. One way to do that is to make the teachers want to teach and engage the students. Paying teachers more would likely increase their willingness to do their job well. It would also be much easier and more effective for teachers to engage students if the schools had more money to buy technology and school supplies for the students.

  4. Tehya Collier says:

    I am convinced that the government is only interested in themselves and does not understand that teachers are the foundation for lawyers, doctors, government officials and other people who will invest in their pocket later in life. The government should invest more money in teachers salaries and schools. This would give teachers a pat on the back and possibly motivate teachers to actually care about their jobs and students. I know most teachers don’t do it for the money, but this is a necessity for them.

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