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Why Won't My Home State of Mississippi Fully Fund Education?

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Durant Public School teachers in Mississippi spend their evenings on the Internet, browsing for math and other problems to give their students because the school doesn't have up-to-date textbooks.

School leaders say that new books aren't in the budget, nor are reading coaches to help improve the districts academic rating of "D." To save money, teachers and their assistants have already been reduced and administrators took pay cuts.

The troubles in Durant, located about 60 miles north of Jackson, illustrate a picture of the state as a whole. MississippiĀ legislators have ignored a state law and spend $1.5 billion less on education than what is required; the cuts in the state are the deepest in the country.

State funding was originally cut as tax revenues plunged during the recession. According to early estimates, the state could fall $280 million short again in 2016.

Durant has 588 students in grades K-12. The teacher turnover rate is high, and when new teachers are hired they tend to be recent graduates who are inexpensive to bring on board.

Sanders-Tate, the superintendent in Durant, dreams of raising the schools rating from a "D" to "A," but knows it's a challenge.

"When you don't have what you need, you've got to make do," Sanders-Tate said. "I'm tired of making do for the kids when they deserve the best like everyone else."

My home state of Mississippi needs to make some big changes as soon as possible. I want the state to earmark sufficient money towards improving education, and to work to improve their "D" rating . Like Sanders-Tate said, the students deserve the best, and the best is far from outdated textbooks.

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