By Scott Stearman Newborns in 10 counties in Mississippi have a shorter life expectancy than newborns in Bangladesh. Please read that again and let the pain behind the numbers take hold in your heart. In this richest of nations, we have a beautiful, lush, prosperous state filled with generous, kind and shirt-off-your-back kind of people …
What the expanded Child Tax Credit means for Mississippians
More than one in four Mississippi children—including two-fifths of Black children—are living in poverty. It’s the highest percentage in the U.S., which as a country has one of the highest child poverty rates in the wealthy world. That’s finally about to change. Last week, 360,000 Mississippi families received their first monthly payout of the revamped and …
“There are two things we should all care about: never to forget where we came from and always praise the bridges that carried us over.? – Fannie Lou Hamer Mrs. Hamer ? born on October 6, 1917 ? was a bridge that carried Black Mississippians toward political and economic freedom. Her work was rooted in …
Are you registered to vote? Today’s the day to do it
In honor of National Voter Registration Day, we share these thoughts on civic responsibility written by Governor Winter in 2003. They feel as relevant as ever. ?The most important office is that of citizen. It is the office that transmits all political authority. Only through the collective judgement of private citizens, acting through their elected …
Listen: a conversation with Bracey Harris about school segregation and reopening in COVID
Bracey Harris reports on education in Mississippi for the?The Hechinger?Report, a nonprofit education news service based at Columbia Teachers College.?Her stories illuminate the systemic effects of race and poverty while keeping the spotlight where it belongs — on the children, parents, teachers, and others who have the most at stake. Bracey is a native Mississippian, …
A visual primer on Mississippi’s brain drain (2020 update)
There is no silver bullet to reverse brain drain. It requires people to do their part on the state, local, and organizational level. Economic and lifestyle factors cause Mississippians to leave and others to stay away. Mississippi is heavily represented among the fastest-shrinking counties. However, even the counties that are growing rapidly by Mississippi’s standards [...]
Mental health and substance use challenges range from depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, addiction and more. Though some of these issues are? visible, many? can be harder to see when you?re not looking for them. In 2018, it was estimated that around 26 percent of those in the U.S. aged 18-25 and 23 percent of those aged …
Podcast: our thoughts on Mississippi’s historic flag change
The sun has risen over Mississippi today, but for the first time in 126 years, the Confederate-themed state flag has not. The Winter Institute’s Jake McGraw, Jeran Herbert, and Von Gordon reflect on the remarkable movement that accomplished what most thought impossible just a few weeks ago.
This year, the next disaster keeps arriving before the last disaster is over. Historic rainfall in January and February swelled the Pearl River and flooded large swaths of Jackson and central Mississippi, inundating hundreds of homes and displacing thousands of residents. Tornadoes ripped across the state throughout the month of April, causing 15 deaths and …
On November 3rd, more than 1.2 million Mississippians will cast their votes for the presidency, Congress, and a handful of down-ballot offices. At best, we will be in recovery from the worst public health and economic crisis in our lifetimes. At worst, we will still be in lockdown after premature attempts to loosen social distancing …
Governor Reeves?s statewide stay-at-home order goes?into effect?today. It is a necessary ? and overdue ? measure to forestall the spread of the coronavirus that has infected at least 1,300 and killed 26 people in Mississippi. It is also another sign of how much the world has changed in just a few short weeks. Prior to …
Right now, the best thing people can do for public health is?to isolate themselves at home. The best thing people can do?for?the economy is?to continue working. Both are possible for people who have?reliable internet access and jobs that can be performed remotely. For everyone else, they are mutually exclusive. I have had the privilege of …
Conventional economic wisdom says that Mississippi is often the last state into and last state out of a national recession. That wisdom largely held for the 2001 and 2008 recessions, which started in sectors (tech and finance, respectively) that did not have wide footprints in Mississippi. But once the downturns spread to the rest of …
On Wednesday night, Mississippi became the 39th state to confirm a case of COVID-19. Five more presumptive cases have been reported today. Coronavirus took a while to reach Mississippi, but now that it?s here, the priority is containing its spread and treating the people who suffer severe complications. At the same time, it?s important to …
The rainiest new year in memory swelled the Pearl River and inundated more than 450 homes and businesses in the Jackson area?in recent weeks. The flooding has been a humanitarian and economic disaster for a city that contends with infrastructure emergencies on its sunniest days. It has also reignited a longstanding debate about whether a …
Former Governor William Winter, the namesake and inspiration of the Winter Institute, turns 97 today. His remarkable life has spanned nearly half of Mississippi?s 202-year history as a state. It?s a hard thing to fact check, but it?s unlikely that anyone has ever met more Mississippians over the course of a lifetime. Indeed, there cannot …
For all of the standardized testing in schools these days, there’s only one exam that measures student achievement across the entire country. It’s the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is actually a set of exams periodically given to representative samples of students in all 50 states and D.C. every. The NAEP tests that …
To rebuild after a storm, focus on building assets before it hits
East Biloxi residents are still struggling to recover from Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill. Community organizations are doing their part to promote economic stability, but state policymakers need to lift unnecessary burdens.
Special needs students are legally entitled to free, appropriate public education services. In order to accept one of Mississippi’s new $6,500 vouchers, they must waive that right ? with potentially costly consequences.
What Works in Mississippi: A Q&A with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi
?What Works in Mississippi? is series that will highlight current issues faced by working Mississippians and the good work being done to address those challenges. Our first subject is the Women?s Foundation of Mississippi, a grant making and advocacy organization dedicated to improving the lives of the state’s women and families.
Wealthy Mississippians would benefit most from income tax elimination
Eliminating the individual income tax would mean either a massive erosion of resources for education and other priorities or a tax shift from wealthy Mississippians to working families who are struggling to make ends meet.
‘My Mississippi, Your Mississippi, and Our Mississippi’
The following speech by U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves — Mississippi’s second African American federal judge — has been shared widely since it was read in his courtroom?on February 10. The occasion was a sentencing hearing for the perpetrators of a modern-day lynching: the brutal murder of James Craig Anderson by white teenagers in 2011. Many outlets have republished Judge Reeves’ powerful words in their entirety, and we choose to be among them.
Universal meal program is ending hunger in high-poverty schools (as long as they sign up)
28.7 percent of Mississippi children do not have consistent, dependable access to nutritious food at home. The high-poverty community eligibility provision has extended school meals to thousands more Mississippi students, but hundreds of eligible schools still have not signed up.
Legislative Budget Committee recommends sweeping budget cuts despite revenue growth and full reserves
Despite $166 million in additional revenue, cuts are recommended for every major budget category except for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, for which the proposal includes a very small increase for teacher pay raises enacted last year.
The Banking Divide: Nearly half of Mississippians lack the proper financial tools to save
Unbanked and underbanked households typically operate in a cash-based system, and, as a result, do not have the same financial security and opportunities as those who bank with traditional financial institutions.
The myth that allows Mississippi to ignore a third of its children
The handful of Mississippians who have risen from poverty to prominence occupy more space in our imaginations — and our TVs, books, blogs, etc. — than combined stories of the 256,000 Mississippi children currently living in poverty.
Starting with quality data, Mississippi KIDS COUNT works to improve child well-being
For the 24th time in 25 years, Mississippi finished last in the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s index of 16 child well-being indicators. The director of Mississippi KIDS COUNT provides an explanation of the rankings.
Sound, fury, and the burden of Mississippi history
As Faulkner instructs, the past is never dead. But lingering Confederate sympathy among Mississippians ? flaring in the wake of the University of Mississippi’s diversity and inclusion report ? proves that it is often misremembered.
Commentary: Dr. Jones knows if Ole Miss leads, others will pay attention
Mississippi’s flagship university has the opportunity to be a leader for institutions dealing with legacies of racism and exclusion. But before that can happen, we need to support Dan Jones’s leadership from within.
The whole LeBron saga has gotten me thinking about the idea of homecoming: What responsibilities do we have to our place of birth? How do we reconcile those with the opportunities afforded by more glamorous places?
An open letter to Gov. Phil Bryant, re: Common Core
Commentary: Gov. Bryant claims to be protecting teachers from government intervention, but jamming the brakes at the eleventh hour would amount to an even greater intrustion into the classroom than any promulgated by the Common Core.
Fifty years after Freedom Summer, Mississippi education remains separate and unequal
More than one-fourth of Mississippi public schools are at least 90 percent black. Another tenth are at least 90 percent white. And, just as in 1964, students in those identifiably black schools receive an inferior education.
The Healthy Students Act has reduced obesity among white children. Why not anyone else?
In the state that ranks at the bottom for almost every health outcome, the Mississippi Healthy Students Act has been hailed as a big step forward in the battle against childhood obesity and chronic disease. But its success has masked growing racial disparities.
A weekly aggregation of the ideas and issues that stuck with us. This week: Mississippi writers talk about life and literature in the state, and the uninsured are still skeptical of the ACA as the enrollment deadline approaches.
Supporting Mississippi’s young men of color: A conversation with William Buster of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation
The director of WKKF’s Mississippi and New Orleans programming speaks about President Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative, the challenges unique to young black and Latino men, and what success will look like in Mississippi.
Mississippi has the worst hunger rate in the country. Why do we make it so hard to get food assistance?
More than 20 percent of Mississippians — and nearly 30 percent of children — do not have consistent access to nutritious food. The latest cuts to food assistance programs are a step in the wrong direction.
To succeed, Mississippi’s school leaders need the flexibility to fail (and try again)
Several schools have implemented new research showing that character strengths such as determination and resilience are better predictors of life success than mere intelligence. Mississippi’s education decision-makers should adopt the same values when tackling the state’s education challenges — first by promoting innovative, high-capacity school leadership.
“We?re tired of you saying that you don?t have money for our public schools”: Talking education with MAE President Joyce Helmick and NEA Secretary-Treasurer Becky Pringle
Helmick and Pringle sat down with Rethink Mississippi and The Hechinger Report to discuss ways to increase funding for Mississippi’s schools and teachers, as well as Common Core, Pre-K, and the unique challenges of rural schools.
Conversing About Community: Jackson’s problems demand honesty, not platitudes
Jackson Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, former Gov. Haley Barbour, and Rev. Keith Tonkel were on their best behavior at Operation Shoestring’s “Conversation About Community.” In doing so, they missed an opportunity for the frank public discussion that Jackson’s problems deserve.
Four thoughts about hatred, honesty, and Ole Miss (UPDATE)
Like many, I was angered and ashamed that students at my alma mater, the University of Mississippi, disrupted a performance of “The Laramie Project” Tuesday night with gay slurs and other hateful behavior. Here are my thoughts about moving forward.
Teen pregnancy is a big enough problem in Mississippi. Let’s not invent another one.
Mississippi’s new law requiring doctors to take DNA samples from umbilical cords of mothers under 16 was hailed by supporters as a key step toward combatting teen pregnancy. Instead, by ignoring the real causes of unplanned pregnancies, it risks exacerbating the problem.
Racial disparities in incarceration are getting worse. It’s time Mississippi took notice.
African Americans account for 61 percent of Mississippi’s prisoners, but only 37 percent of its population. Mississippi should join a national movement to reexamine the racial impact of its sentencing laws.
In the mid-1990s, Mississippi’s highway signs admonished passing drivers: “Only Positive Mississippi Spoken Here.” The slogan still dictates how Mississippi addresses its tough issues: instead of confronting our negatives, we change the subject to our positives.