BILL CRAWFORD: Bryant confronts tale of two Mississippis

If these and other trends hold, it won’t be long before needy Mississippians outnumber comfy Mississippians. Not only does that bode ill for the state, it portends big problems for Republican politicians.

While it may be popular to cater to the comfy crowd, Republicans should realize their need to provide opportunities for more needy Mississippians to rise to a higher standard of living. Only Gov. Phil Bryant among Republican leaders seems to grasp this.

Bryant’s “Education Works” agenda called for more emphasis and new spending on early childhood education. It also established a “third grade gate,” modeled on a successful Florida initiative, that halts social promotion of third graders unable to read at grade level. Two promising initiatives, both greatly underfunded by the Republican controlled legislature.