Mississippi Politician: Schools Need Help From State Constitution

A call for a constitutional mandate to provide adequate education in Mississippi bears comparison to Maryland’s education funding debates.

This topic is not unique to Mississippi.

Maryland has its own history with regard to education funding – one that continues today with an ongoing study of funding adequacy and, as Governing reports,

Nearly every state has faced legal battles over school funding.

As reported in Governing, Mississippians will be voting on a ballot measure that would change Mississippi’s state Constitution to promise an “adequate and efficient system of free public schools.” Such a provision could form the basis for lawsuits seeking additional state funding for education.

The article describes the background on education funding in Mississippi,

[B]ecause Mississippi’s legislature doesn’t have a legal obligation to fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, it’s has only been fully funded twice in the 18 years since the law passed. . .

Maryland’s constitutional provision was the basis for an ACLU lawsuit that ultimately lead to legislation to increase education funding. As described by the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, this legislation:

  • Reformed the State’s school finance system to include: an increased per pupil foundation amount;
  • Increased per pupil funding for students with special needs based on economic disadvantaged, special education, or limited English proficiency;
  • Guaranteed tax base grants for school systems with low wealth and high education effort; and Geographic Cost of Education Index (GCEI) funding for school systems with high personnel and non-wage costs.

The Association cites progress based on the increase in funding that came in part from a 2007 increase in the State sales tax,

In 2009, MGT of America issued a report confirming that the increased funding provided by the [Maryland] Bridge to Excellence Act had resulted in significantly increased student performance for all students, including minority and economically disadvantaged students.

This year, Maryland began an assessment of its education funding. The Study of Adequacy of Funding for Education in the State Of Maryland includes participation of MACo as a stakeholder in schools funding.

For more information about Mississippi, read the full story from Governing.

For more information about education funding in Maryland, see the Maryland Association of Boards of Education continuing resolution, Adequate and Equitable State and Local Funding of Public Education.

For more information about Maryland’s study, see our previous post, Stakeholder Group Considers the Equity of State’s Education Funding.