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a student sits in a room looking to the right as his classmates raise their hands
Central Mississippi Labor Union leader Chris Gray Sr. stands in solidarity with Mississippi Association of Educators’ Raise Mississippi initiative, writing that state leaders should hold all bragging on education until public schools are fully funded. Photo courtesy Jackson Public School District

Opinion | Fully Fund Our Public Schools First, Then Brag.

As labor union leaders, we must stand in solidarity with our sisters and brothers in the education field as they fight for better pay, equity in school resource materials, quality learning environments, quality leadership and not only adequate funding, but full funding for public schools.

There is no strong labor presence without strong education and strong educators. The foundation of any success in Mississippi is education.

So, what are we doing to secure the best education possible for Mississippi students? Mississippi touts that our teachers received the highest pay increase ever in the history of the state. Great. But Mississippi does not tout that teachers’ health insurance doubled to unaffordable rates at the same time.

A graphic banner that says "Raise Our Students. Raise our Economy. Raise Mississippi"
Raise Mississippi, an initiative the Mississippi Association of Educators oversees, brings together a diverse group of educators, parents, advocates and business community leaders to join together for Mississippi students. Photo courtesy MAE

Mississippi is not touting that teachers are having to work a second job to make ends meet. Mississippi is not touting that college graduates are not staying in the State of Mississippi for work. Mississippi is not touting that we have greedy corporations that fight against organized labor unions, which help improve the livelihood and living standards of workers.

Mississippi is not touting that teachers and others who work in the education field are departing their beloved professions for technical and vocational trainings and careers because of better pay and working conditions.

Mississippi is not touting that the for-profit charter schools in Mississippi are failing. Mississippi is not touting that every time a child leaves public schooling for a charter school that those dollars transfer with the student to the charter, meaning public-school enrollment and public-schools funding decreases.

Let us prompt our leadership to begin touting that Mississippi has fully funded public education, which includes fully funding salaries and working conditions that reflect the importance of educators to the success of our state.

Nothing affects the economy of our great state like a strong public school education system. Nothing.

That’s why we must demand positive action from our State leadership. We cannot afford to ignore this issue any longer.

Together, we can Raise Mississippi! Together, we must raise Mississippi!

This MFP Voices essay does not necessarily represent the views of the Mississippi Free Press, its staff or board members. To submit an opinion for the MFP Voices section, send up to 1,200 words and sources fact-checking the included information to We welcome a wide variety of viewpoints.

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