SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Funding for education is something that is typically a hot button issue in our state. We don't always have the best education record nationwide, but that may be changing in one area.
In the past, state Sen. Brice Wiggins saw a void in the education system. This is what prompted him to write a bill three years ago introducing the idea of early education collaboratives.
"The fact of the matter is that the early education community in the state has been fractured, and that's held us back," said Wiggins.
Back then, our state ranked extremely low on the early education ladder. In fact, Wiggins said we were a zero on a scale to 10 of early education standards.
"We are now in the top five in the country in quality of early education. Now, tell me when was the last time Mississippi in the top five in education in anything? Never," said Wiggins.
He said the numbers can be misleading if you don't look at the whole picture. Yes, Mississippi is building a higher quality early education program, but it only applies to a fraction of our students. He and others hope the movement will continue.
"To be in the top five in the country is really showing that the return on the investment is proving to work and that we shouldn't stop what we're doing, and we should continue to move forward," said Lori West, with the United Way and Climb CDC.
It's going to take funding to keep the project moving forward. Fortunately for the coast, Wiggins said our early education is ahead of the game.
"The coast is leading the way in this. We've taken what we've done on the coast, while we can always be better, and we've used it as a model for the rest of the state, and it's starting to take off," said Wiggins.
He wants the initiative to continue its momentum statewide. Right now, Mississippi's early learning collaboratives serve almost 1,000 students statewide.