Mississippi preschools ranked top in nation

Published 7:00 am Thursday, June 8, 2017

While our state seems to fall on the tail end of many rankings compared to others in the nation, a recent report from the National Institute for Early Education Research found that Mississippi’s public preschools met all 10 standards of quality.

The caveat was that not many children in the state have access to this program.

But, to add to that accolade, ours was one of only five nationwide to do meet all 10 standards.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

To determine this ranking, access to public preschools, quality and enrollment goals were examined. Those benchmarks concerned educational quality, the degree held by the teacher and the size of the class as compared to the number of teachers.

However, according to an article by the Hechinger Report, only one percent of preschool aged children received education from the public preschool program, and spending per student in Mississippi ($1,787) was far below the national average ($4,976). That put the state in the low end of state spending in public preschools, but the study noted that requirements in the programs were comprehensive. That’s because teachers in Mississippi preschools are required to at least have a bachelor’s degree, and class sizes are regulated to not more than 20 students.

This study lends credence to the recent matter handled by the Picayune School District’s Early Head Start program, where 20 slots had to be reduced to ensure there were enough teachers and staff to adequately provide this level of service.

However, this study sheds light on one very important aspect of the program; not enough children receive it. If funds could become available to provide this same level of educational service to more children, our state would begin to climb out of the bottom of the ranks on so many studies and rankings.

When and if such a trend could be achieved, Mississippi would surely be on the path to growth and prosperity for all of its residents.