A three-year fight ended successfully this year when the Mississippi Supreme Court affirmed the constitutionality of charter school funding in Mississippi. Since 2016, Mississippi First has been quarterbacking the efforts of advocates to defend the law, including arranging for defendant-interveners and providing support to the legal defense teams. This positive outcome means the 1,750-plus children receiving their public education from one of the (now) six public charter schools in Mississippi can continue to attend their chosen public school. The ruling also unequivocally affirms what Mississippi First has said all along: public education dollars belong to public school children for their public education. Charter schools in Mississippi are public schools, and funding charter schools is funding public schools.

Strategic Plan: The Future


By 2021, at least 35% of children will be in full-time, no-cost, high-quality pre-K seats. In 2020, we will fight to expand pre-K to new communities while ensuring quality and a fair per-pupil cost.

Charter Schools

By 2023, Mississippi will have 15 approved schools in at least three low-performing areas, with capacity to serve 17,250. No charter schools will be below a “C” after 3 years. In 2020, we will focus on improving authorizing through strong policymaking and on growing Mississippi’s charter community.


By 2022, MDE will reach an 80% adoption rate of the newly approved, high-quality math curricula as well as any English/language arts (ELA) curricula approved in Spring 2020. In 2020, we will develop and execute a communications strategy that increases teachers’ support for the use of high-quality, standards-aligned curriculum, with a focus on the most recently adopted math curriculum list.

Educator Pipeline

By 2021, Mississippi will increase the percentage of low-income students served by a highly effective teacher. In 2020, we will finish our first phase of research and report findings from state qualitative and quantitative data.

Top Publication: Pre-K Briefing Book

This year, Mississippi First developed a definitive briefing book on state-funded pre-K in Mississippi. The original impetus for this book was to educate aspiring elected officials about the program and to encourage their support. Along with the book, Mississippi First offered briefings to candidates for the top state offices (Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General) as well as the current chairs of legislative education committees. As a result of these briefings, all of the candidates added expansion of the state program to their platforms! We have also been able to use the book with legislative candidates and to give the book to other interested parties, such as potential donors and the media, to share the information more broadly.