Is Barbour waging war on education?

Judging by the recent actions of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, education isn’t a high priority on his list for state funding. First he vetoed the budget, citing his concerns about public safety issues, most notably the need for the funding for prisons to be topped up prior to the year end in June. Now the Governor is proposing to shift 90 million dollars into the state’s contingency fund in the 2011 budget. It would seem that almost anything is more important than the partial or entire reinstatement of the desperately needed moneys that have been cut from education funding.

DeSoto County schools have been hit hard by Barbour’s myopic policies. Over the last 14 months, county schools have lost $14 million in funding. Coping with these losses in funding has been difficult, to say the least. While the schools in DeSoto County may not have fallen on as hard times as those in more impoverished areas of the state, they still require the funding that has been lost, regardless. It goes without saying that any portion of the $90 million would be most welcome by the authorities. As it is, we all know that teachers dip into their own pockets for the extras and -yes – even the necessities for their students.

How can DeSoto County or Mississippi provide a well educated workforce locally, much less nationally, while facing such enormous budget cuts? How can we be expected to compete in an ever increasingly aggressive economic climate if we can’t provide employers with an educated labor pool? Mississippi doesn’t rank very high in the academic standards nationally and it’s easy to see why, when funding for education isn’t a priority of the government.

Desoto Times
3/29/10