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How So Many Ignore Their Bleeding Neighbors

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 …

First impressions of Mississippi’s 2020 Census results

Mississippi was one of three states to lose population during the decade.

Capitol Dispatch: Weed, bigotry, tax cuts, and water

Running analysis and commentary about bills we’re watching in the 2021 Mississippi legislative session.

Capitol Dispatch: Taxation fixation

Running analysis and commentary about bills we’re watching in the 2021 legislative session.

Capitol Dispatch: Medicaid extraction

Running analysis and commentary about bills we’re watching in the 2021 legislative session.

Honoring Fannie Lou Hamer

“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 [...]

COVID is also a mental health epidemic

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.

Commentary: Changing the flag is just the start

For now, leave the flagpoles bare. Let Mississippi earn a new flag that reflects an inclusive and just state.

Preparing for the Next Big One

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 …

Let Mississippians vote by mail in November

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 …

Keeping Mississippians at Home

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 …

Coronavirus and the Digital Divide?

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 …

The recession has begun: How bad will it?get?

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 …

Coronavirus arrives in Mississippi

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 …

Flood control in Jackson: two birds, ‘One Lake’?

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 …

Happy birthday, Governor Winter

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 …

Weekly roundup: Yes, we can read… and do math

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 …

Mississippi’s brain drain crisis in 12 slides

New Census data, same old story: People keep leaving Mississippi

Mississippi’s net migration loss since 2010 is almost equal to the population of Biloxi, the state’s fifth-largest city.

If my son?s going to be from Mississippi: One mother?s reflection on the bicentennial

“I hope that the bravery he sees in his predecessors makes him believe that he was built for brave choices, too.”

My Mississippi: The state flag is racist ? and unoriginal

Every other state’s flag features something distinctive about itself. Why doesn’t ours?

Commentary: A call for a more careful use of rhetoric

A response to recent columns The Daily Mississippian by professors of writing and rhetoric at the University of Mississippi.

My Mississippi: On being black and ready to die

“We are not shocked, because unfortunately we know it’s coming.”

My Mississippi: Delta Dojo

This is an excerpt from the new book, Teacher: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta.?

My Mississippi: Reading Ms. Welty after HB 1523

On a recent visit home, writer Douglas Ray reflected on Mississippi’s humane letters and inhumane laws.

My Mississippi: Home at the China-King Buffet

A former teacher’s reflection on breaking the black-white dichotomy in the Mississippi Delta.

My Mississippi: Delta students take flight

An upcoming trip to Canada is already broadening horizons.

My Mississippi: A setback and a sigh

HB 1523 has been on the minds of Mississippi natives living in other parts of the country. For many, it underscores why they left.

Love it or leave it?

A state representative’s abrasive email sheds light on Mississippi’s self-destructive mentality.

Commentary: Mississippi does not have a state lottery. Let’s keep it that way.

The benefits are overstated, the costs are underestimated, and there are much better ways to fund essential services.

Why doesn’t Mississippi have a lottery?

It’s a simple question that requires a complex answer.

Mississippi’s SNAP Trap

What happens when states prosecute people on food stamps before they prosecute people who commit tax fraud worth millions of dollars?

A conversation with William Winter

The former governor shares his thoughts on education, racism, millennials’ obligation to social justice, and Mississippi’s place in America

Commentary: Why I joined the nationwide fast food strike

The average fast food worker in Mississippi earns less than the poverty line and receives few benefits or protections.

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.

Pre-K study shows that Mississippi kids succeed when given a chance

An analysis of MDE data shows that pre-K attendance can kickstart a positive domino effect that raises the likelihood of long-term academic success.

Read the fine print on special education vouchers

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.

Commentary: How to make $60,000 when schools are underfunded

Become a lawyer and represent the Legislature when it evades its responsibility to adequately support public schools.

Mississippi leads south in black student suspensions

Black students compose half of Mississippi’s enrollment but receive 74 percent of suspensions according to a new analysis of federal school discipline data.

Four policies that would close the wage gap for Mississippi women

White women in make only 79 cents for every dollar earned by white men. The gap is even worse for black women.

Healthy food, healthy children, healthy future

Thanks to a new policy, 250 high-poverty Mississippi schools are offering nutritious breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge.

Primary Colors: How Robert Gray’s upset was more than a century in the making

Mississippi’s anachronistic primary system made it possible for a mystery man to win the Democratic nomination for governor.

Watch Jon Stewart’s best segments about Mississippi

Even when ‘The Daily Show’ hit close to home, it was hard not to laugh.

Mississippi’s unfilled prescription

The refusal to expand Medicaid means hundreds of thousands of Mississippians will remain without health insurance ? and healthcare providers will be forced to pick up the tab.

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.

Supporting working moms is smart economic policy

More than 300,000 mothers in Mississippi depend on the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Mississippi’s leaders thought welfare recipients were on drugs. They were wrong.

Mississippi has screened 5,578 TANF applicants for drug use since August. Only eight (0.14 percent) have tested positive.

College degrees are out of reach for most Mississippians

Mississippi has one of the nation’s lowest rates of higher education attainment and one of the highest rates of student loan default.

Closing the book on fiscally-irresponsible tax cuts

The tax cut proposal defeated during the legislative session would have placed necessary investments at risk without improving the state’s economic competitiveness.

Commentary: The College Board?s dismissal of Dan Jones sets a dangerous precedent

If you take the IHL Board at their word, the University of Mississippi’s educational and social mission is subordinate to the quest for financial returns.

Letter from recent ASB presidents: Why Chancellor Jones won?t be easy to replace

Four Ole Miss student body presidents say that the IHL Board has threatened the progress they worked with Dan Jones to achieve.

If you want to stand with Dan Jones, here’s what you can do

Don’t take the unjustified firing of Ole Miss Chancellor Dan Jones lying down.

Updated Senate plan would cut $550 million in corporate and income taxes

The “compromise” plan adds $170 million to the price tag — roughly as much as the Legislature underfunded K-12 education this year.

Ten things you should know about Mississippi’s tax cut plans

Will the Legislature mortgage the state’s long-term fiscal health for an election year boost? Check back for updates.

Why 3 percent growth won?t really ‘cover’ the costs of eliminating the income tax

If the economy grows, the income tax cut will become more expensive in absolute terms — as will the cost of education, infrastructure, and other public services.

House and Senate tax plans do little for struggling working families

Low- and middle-income Mississippians pay the state’s highest tax rates, but the Legislature has left them out of tax cut discussions.

Income tax elimination could tank Mississippi’s already-poor economy

Mississippi lawmakers are playing a game of one-upmanship when it comes to tax proposals, but the biggest losers could be taxpayers if lawmakers enact one of the more ill-advised plans.

Mississippi cannot afford House or Senate tax cut plans

The Legislature’s tax cut proposals would require spending reductions for key services like education, infrastructure, mental health, and public safety.

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.

Eliminating the state income tax in Mississippi: Is it a tax cut or a tax shift?

If the Legislature phases out the state’s second-largest revenue source, future budgets will be forced to slash essential investments or raise taxes and fees on low- and middle-income families.

Op-Ed: Toasting the demise of SB 2767

The bill, which would have prohibited abortions based on determinations of race or gender, played on disturbing stereotypes in yet another attempt to limit reproductive justice.

‘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.

Large corporate tax cuts are not the answer for Mississippi’s working families

Forbes ranked Mississippi the worst state for business because of a poorly-educated workforce and substandard quality of life factors. Durable investments are needed, not more corporate tax cuts.

To reduce unplanned pregnancies, focus on older teens and young adults

A 2014 law requires all of Mississippi’s two- and four-year colleges to develop plans to address unplanned pregnancy on campus. This is a good start, but more needs to be done.

Many working Mississippians struggle to escape the poverty trap

Low-wage jobs, inadequate savings, and the lack of proper financial tools keep many working Mississippians in a perpetual state of insecurity.

For most Mississippi families, ‘middle class’ does not imply economic security

62 percent of Mississippi households do not have enough savings to weather a job loss or medical emergency.

Mississippi has the most elected superintendents in the country. Here’s what it means for students.

Small school districts fare worse when superintendents are elected rather than appointed.

Report: In Mississippi, lower income means higher state and local taxes

High sales taxes place a disproportionate burden on low-income families, according report from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy.

What does the Legislature’s alternative mean for Initiative 42?

It makes it harder to pass. Plain and simple.

These are the countries with lower infant mortality rates than Mississippi

Nearly 10 out of every 1,000 children do not survive their first year of life, making Mississippi one of the riskiest places to be born in the developed world.

Commentary: Will Gov. Bryant’s poverty plans ever go beyond ‘welfare junkies’ and ‘dice-shooting deadbeats’?

The governor of the country’s poorest state has exhausted all the stereotpyes about poverty. This is his last legislative session before reelection to address the needs of real people.

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.

Stephen Colbert’s best Mississippi-themed segments

Even when “The Colbert Report” hit close to home, it was hard not to laugh.

Budget recommendation shortchanges schools and Medicaid

Despite revenue growth and full reserves, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee’s FY2016 proposal fails to adequately fund the state’s education and health commitments.

Principal predicts ‘chaos’ if Mississippi drops Common Core

Enterprise Attendance Center Principal Shannon Eubanks says the suggestion to drop Mississippi?s standards is ?political pandering.?

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.

Old beer laws are stifling new economic growth. Here’s how Mississippi can adapt.

Craft breweries are an economic and cultural boon for Mississippi, but an outdated regulatory regime threatens their competitiveness and sustainability.

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.

Report: To lift kids out of poverty, help their parents, too

Reducing child poverty requires a “two-generation approach,” according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s latest KIDS COUNT report.

Tackling persistent poverty in Mississippi: Ideas from the Mississippi Economic Policy Center’s policy conference

Folllow our running feed to get the best insights and ideas from the Mississippi Economic Policy Center’s 2014 conference.

Mississippi narrows the opportunity gap, but key deficiencies remain

Despite modest education gains, Mississippi still ranks second from the bottom in annual “Opportunity Index.”

Report: Mississippi spends $623 less per student than in 2008

A new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that Mississippi ranks among the worst in the country in depth of cuts to school funding since the start of the recession.

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.

Egg Bowl ticket or rent? Which would you pick?

Mississippi’s football success is getting very, very expensive.

History says Mississippi can’t have two good SEC football teams at the same time. Has that changed?

During a season in which Mississippi boasted two of the country’s top three college football teams, we explore the question that has frustrated Rebels and Bulldogs for a century.

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.

Mississippi’s businesses demand investment, not tax cuts

Despite low taxes, Mississippi ranked 49th in Forbes’s 2013 business climate survey thanks to a poorly-trained labor force and low quality of life.

Mississippi produces the most ‘geniuses’ in the South

Mississippians win MacArthur “Genius Grants” at a higher rate than residents of any other Southern state. What, if anything, does that say about us?

Mississippi’s jobs problem is also an income problem

After more than a decade of stagnant wages, one in three jobs in Mississippi does not pay enough to lift a family of four out of poverty.

Despite moderate recovery, Mississippi’s job market remains the weakest in the nation

At 8 percent, Mississippi?s unemployment rate was the highest in the nation for July.

Mississippi’s black males are twice as likely to drop out as their peers. This is no time to cut back on education funding.

From 2006 to 2012, the dropout rate for black males in Mississippi schools has been above 20 percent while the dropout rate for all students has declined from 17.6 percent to 13.9 percent.

To prevent a ‘license to discriminate,’ don’t let anti-LGBT judges run unopposed

This week’s same-sex marriage ruling from Rankin County shows the hostility to LGBT rights among some of Mississippi’s elected judges.

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.

Medicaid expansion is a prescription that Mississippi needs to fill

Mississippi?s rejection of Medicaid expansion means that hundreds of thousands will remain without insurance ? and healthcare providers will be forced to pick up the tab.

If you watch only one online video today, make sure it’s this one

John Oliver takes on America’s broken prison system, with one particularly egregious example from right here in Mississippi.

‘The Rule of Law’: An immigration attorney?s response to Gov. Bryant?s comments on unaccompanied minors

Governor Bryant?s letter to President Obama demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of U.S. immigration and constitutional law.

Rethinking the Month: The ‘get caught up so you can enjoy the summer’ edition

Don’t waste your summer online. This quick recap with bring you up to speed with everything happening at Rethink Mississippi.

LeBron is going home. Mississippians should, too.

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.

The Common Core difference, from a teacher’s perspective

Common Core gave me the flexibility to teach to my students’ individual needs without compromising essential learning goals that ensured they would be ready for college or careers upon graduation.

You’ve probably benefited from Gov. William Winter’s education reforms. Now’s your chance to see how they happened.

Watch this trailer for an upcoming documentary about Gov. Winter’s remarkable life and achievements.

Is Mississippi providing financial aid for traditional and non-traditional students alike?

Mississippi only allocates 15 cents of every financial aid dollar on the basis of need, while other states designate 71 cents per financial aid dollar.

How the Common Core literacy standards could have improved this anti-Common Core Facebook post

All Mississippians could benefit from the rigorous new literacy standards.

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.

Mississippi has changed since Freedom Summer. The struggle for justice and equality has not.

Mississippi’s progress was on full display at Mt. Zion church in Neshoba County last Sunday. So was its unfinished business.

We all love Mississippi, so why don’t we like living here?

The Mississippi author Willie Morris had a saying: “We all love Mississippi, but it doesn’t always love us back.” However, recent data suggest that there may be less love lost than Willie realized.

Rethinking the Week, May 3rd ? May 9th

Here?s what we thought about this week, the 10,248th in Mississippi state history.

Mississippi’s Tomorrow: New approaches to entrepreneurship, STEM education are key

Mississippi ranks 46th in business creation and 49th in STEM professionals. Educational reforms are needed to make Mississippi’s economy more dynamic and innovative.

Report: Mississippi children continue to lack needed resources

Children in Mississippi are falling further behind the rest of the nation?s children in vital areas such as education and health, according to a new report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation.

Four thoughts about disaster and recovery in Mississippi

Monday was Mississippi’s worst day of tornado activity on record. Nearly every part of the state was hit, killing twelve people and injuring dozens more.

Rethinking the Week, April 19th ? April 25th

Here?s what we thought about this week, the 10,246th in Mississippi state history.

41 percent of Mississippians cannot see this blog post

Or anything online, for that matter.

Rethinking the Week, April 12th ? April 18th

Here?s what we thought about this week, the 10,245th in Mississippi state history.

A thank you note to the taxpayers of America

Mississippi receives $2.45 in federal spending for every $1 it contributes in taxes. It’s time we showed our gratitude.

Rethinking the Week, April 5th ? April 11th

Here’s what stuck with us this week, the 10,244th in Mississippi state history.

Women make $9,800 less than men in Mississippi. In other news, Mississippi is one of five states without a pay equity law.

In honor of Equal Pay Day, Mississippi should resolve to eliminate wage discrimination and other barriers to economic opportunity for women.

Breaking the Cycle: Education must become Mississippi’s top economic development priority

Low educational achievement accounts for more than half of the income gap between Mississippi and the rest of the country.

Rethinking the Week, March 29 ? April 4

Here?s what we thought about this week, the 10,243rd in Mississippi state history.

State of Stagnation: Mississippians born at the bottom are likely to stay at the bottom

A groundbreaking study on economic mobility found that those born in poverty in Mississippi rarely have the opportunity to break out.

Slicing the Pie: Mississippi’s economy puts the few ahead of the many

In the first of a three-part series, Matt Williams of the Mississippi Center for Justice argues why Mississippians should be concerned about rising income inequality.

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.

Rethinking the Week, March 22 ? March 28

Here?s what we thought about this week, the 10,242nd in Mississippi state history.

The ACA offers working Mississippians a long-overdue raise. State leaders should embrace it.

The Affordable Care Act could correct an imbalance in the tax code and improve working Mississippians’ financial security… if the state’s leaders would just get out of the way.

Rethinking the Week, March 15 ? March 21

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.

Only 6% of uninsured Mississippians have gotten covered through healthcare reform. What gives?

The rejection of Medicaid expansion and mistrust among the uninsured have depressed enrollment.

Here’s (pretty much) everything you need to know about SB 2681

Is it about religious freedom? Is it about LGBTQ discrimination? We cover all of that in our primer on the most controversial bill of the legislative session.

Op-Ed: My “Sincerely Held Religious Belief”

SB 2681 sanctions discrimination in the name of religious freedom. Lex Rofes of the Institute of Southern Jewish Life explains why his religious beliefs have led him to oppose the bill.

Gov. Bryant’s embrace of telemedicine ignores the bigger picture

If Gov. Bryant was serious about improving treatment and prevention for diabetes, he would not have rejected the federal Medicaid expansion or banned local regulations on nutrition.

Life and irony at Ole Miss

UM’s first black female student body president encountered racism at the university, but she also learned the meaning of love and compassion.

Announcing two Mississippi initiatives promoting LGBTQ rights and dignity

LGBT Forward and OUTLaw’s symposium at the UM Law School will bring Mississippi closer to ending discrimination based on sexual difference.

Commentary: The University of Mississippi’s latest ‘incident’ brings both pain and illumination

The desecration of the James Meredith statue goes to show that while the university has been desegregated, the work of integration is unfinished.

Reducing racial disparities in our prisons: What can Mississippi learn from other states?

The bipartisan sentencing reform bill moving through the Legislature does not address racial disparities. That’s a serious omission.

Why Mississippians need national health insurance (and no, that doesn’t mean Obamacare)

By selling health insurance at the state level, places like Mississippi have fewer options and higher costs.

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 give children opportunity, help single working moms

Over one in three Mississippi children grow up below the federal poverty line. More than 75 percent of those kids live in homes with a single mother.

Commentary: Don’t change the seal. Change the flag.

Now that the Governor and Legislature want to add “In God We Trust” to the state seal, let?s have a conversation about the symbol that most needs to be changed.

Commentary: Politico, Phil Bryant, and the Positive Mississippi reflex

Politico Magazine ranked Mississippi as America’s worst state. Gov. Phil Bryant’s rebuttal did nothing to disprove it.

Op-Ed: Creating a truly “fair” workers’ compensation system

The Mississippi Immigrant Rights Alliance advocates for workers’ compensation reforms that puts the needs of workers first.

Mississippi must develop educated cities to achieve sustainable growth

Economic research shows that Southern cities benefit the most from increasing concentrations of skilled workers. Mississippi needs to catch up.

Should Mississippians hunt deer or rabbits? What game theory can tell us about brain drain

Mississippi is stuck in a bad equilibrium that gives its educated young people little incentive to stay.

Why are so many Mississippians moving to Sunflower County?

Parchman, of course.

LBJ launched the War on Poverty 50 years ago today. These maps show how poverty in Mississippi has changed since then.

While Mississippi’s poverty rate has declined drastically in absolute terms, the state hasn’t kept pace with its neighbors.

Three New Year’s resolutions for Mississippi

This is the time of the year for self-improvement. Mississippi should start by creating universal pre-K, supporting Jackson’s growth, and a adopting new spirit of innovation.

Four numbers to remember from 2013

292 million; 19.7%; 0; 161. Find out what they meant to Mississippi in 2013.

Commentary: Gov. Bryant’s education decree is both meaningless and irresponsible

Instead of taking opportunity to educate the public about the state-adopted Common Core standards, the governor chose duplicity.

Which part of Mississippi produces the most NFL players? This map will show you

Panola and Covington counties can each make a case to be Mississippi’s “NFL Capital.”

Every state got its annual health checkup yesterday. How did Mississippi do?

The 2013 edition of America’ s Health Rankings came out yesterday. Once again, Mississippi finished 50th. At least you can’t fault our consistency.

Mississippi’s child poverty rate is twice as high as Lithuania’s. Why are we OK with that?

Over one in three Mississippi children grow up in households under the federal poverty line. That’s higher than any developed country in the world.

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.

Looking for opportunity in Mississippi? Check out this map

Mississippi’s “Opportunity Index” has improved in the past two years but still ranks near the bottom nationally.

Survey: Mississippi kids unprepared for kindergarten

More than 40 percent of students in Mississippi are not ready for kindergarten, according to the results of a survey released by Mississippi KIDS COUNT.

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.

This one map illustrates Mississippi’s greatest challenge

The South is the country’s fastest-growing region. Why are people leaving Mississippi?

Of Baptists, bootleggers, and brewmasters: Mississippi’s entry into the craft beer movement

Since the Legislature legalized high-gravity beer in 2012, craft breweries have sprung up around the state. Mississippi should embrace their development rather than reverting to its old objections.

Stop blaming poverty!

Mississippi’s new superintendent of education says, “Poverty is not an excuse.” She’s talking to Mississippi’s leaders, not its kids.

How did Mississippi smoke up billions from the tobacco settlement?

In summary: Medicaid inflation, short-term thinking, and anti-tax dogma.

The Nissan Trap: For better or worse, Mississippi’s investment creates dilemmas

By putting up $378 million in cash incentives to attract Nissan, Mississippi has made itself beholden to a large overseas employer — perhaps even against the interests of its own citizens.

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.

Can Mississippians afford the Affordable Care Act?

Yes, but only through the kindness of strangers. Thanks, federalism!

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.

Teach for America just got some great news. Mississippi should build on their success.

Mississippi has made a large investment in Teach for America. A groundbreaking new study gives us a better idea of what we get in return.

Mississippi should nuke its economic development strategy

Once nuclear waste begins to look like gold, Mississippians need to have a conversation about smart growth.

Haley Barbour on Mississippi’s race relations: mission accomplished

Ahead of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, the ex-Guv says the playing field is level and that blacks can be racist, too.

Inside Mississippi’s 15 years of employment stagnation

Despite attracting large employers such as Nissan and Toyota, Mississippi has not added a single net job since 1998. Here’s a look at the facts.

Welcome to Rethink Mississippi

Thanks for stopping by. Let me tell you a little about the place.

‘Only Honest Mississippi Spoken Here’

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.