Desoto County NewsMississippi News

Jones: Encourage lawmakers to make public schools top issue

The following is an op-ed piece written by Erica Jones, President of the Mississippi Association of Educators, and may not the opinion of this publication.

Earlier this month, Mississippians in every corner of our state exercised one of their most sacred rights as citizens: the right to cast a vote. The right to change our state. At Raise Mississippi, we wholeheartedly congratulate our newly elected lawmakers and thank them for their commitment to serving Mississippi. We also extend our gratitude to the candidates who did not prevail, but who demonstrated their own dedication to our state and its future.

Erica Jones (Courtesy photo)

As we embark on a new chapter and look ahead to the critical legislative session, we urge state leaders to remember their promise to prioritize our public schools as the key lever in shaping a prosperous future. With 90 percent of Mississippi children attending our public schools, the link between great schools, a robust economy, and an enhanced quality of life is undeniable.

Prioritizing our public schools so each student can learn and thrive is not merely about boosting academic performance, it is about shaping Mississippi. Our children are the entrepreneurs, scientists, and leaders of tomorrow. A great education provides them with the skills they need to compete in an ever more competitive global economy and in turn ensures that Mississippi can compete. Equipping our public schools with the resources to deliver what students need nurtures the innovative spirit that drives progress and ensures our own future prosperity.

Strong public schools serve as a catalyst for economic development. Businesses thrive in areas where a skilled workforce is readily available. High-quality schools produce graduates who are innovative, adaptable, and capable of driving our economy forward. This in turn, attracts businesses to communities, creates job opportunities, and stimulates local economies.

Unfortunately, Mississippi has lagged behind when it comes to making public schools a priority, and because of that, we have a heavy lift to close the gap. From overcrowded classrooms to outdated textbooks and aging buildings, inadequate technology and insufficient support services, too many schools struggle to provide students with the education they deserve.

Proposals that offer simple solutions ignoring these real challenges are already surfacing, and the temptation to tinker around the edges or kick the can down the road will be constant. Instead, we must seize the opportunity to strengthen our public schools in a way that is smart and forward-looking. To keep qualified and dedicated educators in the classrooms, provide students with up-to-date books and technology, and ensure access to the school nurses, librarians, counselors and school support staff that our children need to thrive and the chance to enjoy “Friday night lights”!

While the responsibility of investing in public schools lies with lawmakers, it is also a collective effort. We all have a role in raising Mississippi’s children to be independent adults, hard workers, and good citizens. As constituents, we can raise our voices and engage with our elected officials. Additionally, here at the Mississippi Association of Educators, we are committed to continuing to engage through the lens of Raise Mississippi with our elected officials, parents, students, business, community and faith leaders to ensure they make decisions that will fuel Mississippi’s rise.

As we look to a future filled with promise, we must focus on what matters – children, our future, and our shared quality of life. Stronger schools today mean a stronger Mississippi tomorrow. We have the power – and the responsibility – to lift up and improve every one of Mississippi’s public schools and create the workforce of tomorrow to compete with every state and every nation. It is a responsibility we must not squander.

For more information about Raise Mississippi, please visit the Raise Mississippi website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *