The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

What would help the children of Mississippi, which has test scores that are consistently among the nation’s worst? The Hechinger Report and Time magazine have partnered to take a long look at the state’s performance and try to find some answers and solutions.

From Hechinger editor Liz Willen’s first piece in the ongoing series:

Although neighboring states have made great strides in early education, Mississippi remains the only state in the South—and just one of 11 in the country—that doesn’t fund any pre-k programs.

Failure to prepare children for school costs the state a lot of money. One of every 14 kindergarteners and one of every 15 first-graders in Mississippi repeated the school year in 2008, the most recent year for which statistics are available. From 1999 to 2008, the state spent $383 million on children who had to repeat kindergarten or first grade, according to the Southern Education Foundation.

Willen recently joined a panel of experts with strong views on the topic to discuss why the largely poor and rural state consistently lags behind in education, and what approaches might improve the future of Mississippi’s schoolchildren. Some believe that state-sponsored pre-k would be a great place to start, while others insist that the answer lies with families and churches.

The forum was broadcast on Jackson State University television.

The Hechinger Report provides in-depth, fact-based, unbiased reporting on education that is free to all readers. But that doesn't mean it's free to produce. Our work keeps educators and the public informed about pressing issues at schools and on campuses throughout the country. We tell the whole story, even when the details are inconvenient. Help us keep doing that.

Join us today.

Letters to the Editor

At The Hechinger Report, we publish thoughtful letters from readers that contribute to the ongoing discussion about the education topics we cover. Please read our guidelines for more information.

By submitting your name, you grant us permission to publish it with your letter. We will never publish your email. You must fill out all fields to submit a letter.

Your email address will not be published.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