By Danial Cherry 

The Mississippi Public Broadcasting–April 7, 2011

Mississippi is the only state in the South which does not have a state sponsored early childhood education program. MPB’s Daniel Cherry reports on what Pre K education could mean for Mississippi and how head start educators are meeting to coordinate their efforts.

Doloris Suel owns PREP Company Tutorial Schools in Jackson which specializes in early childhood education. She says in her line of work she can tell children who start education early in life have an advantage.

“Children that come to us that have even been with grandma until they’re five, they’re so far behind. We have to find ways to go and catch them up. Then the public schools are faced with the same thing.”

Studies show children who receive education and stimulation before beginning Kindergarten are much more likely to graduate from high school and attend a four year college. Joann Lang is with the National Institute for School Leadership. She’s in Mississippi training teachers about successful practices used in Pennsylvania. Lang says that state saw huge rewards for implementing pre K.

“For every dollar that we spent in early childhood we got $17 in return, meaning we have better productive citizens, we have children graduating from high schools and colleges, we don’t have children getting into trouble and getting into prisons so we’re saving money.”

Dr. Nikisha Ware is the Executive Director for the Mississippi Learning Institute. She says early childhood education is great, but unless the state makes an effort for equitable access to education— only those families who can afford it will be able to take advantage.

“Because they don’t have access to those early learning opportunities they start school behind. For the have and have not you have a group of children that will perpetually be behind.”

The Mississippi Early Childhood Education Advisory Council recently received one point six million dollars in federal funds to continue developing a comprehensive Pre K education system. Daniel Cherry…MPB News.

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