- Mississippi received its third rejection for a federal preschool grant.
- In its application for the funding, the state requested $60 million to be disbursed over four years, which would have reportedly tripled the available seats for kids in pre-K programs.
- The state's application is being blamed as the reason for the rejection, as its plans for pre-K were seen as "vague" and lacking details — particularly as it pertains to English-language learners, students with disabilities, and children in poverty.
According to the Jackson Free Press, Mississippi is one of the only Southern states to not receive a federal early childhood grant. This is a big deal for a state that has frequently appeared at or near the bottom in state education rankings, as better pre-K could arguably improve student outcomes. Still, if the review of its application for funding is any indication, the state has room for improvement in planning before it can even think about implementing programs on a larger scale.
For example, on the child poverty front, only 2% of Mississippi's impoverished children were served by state-funded early childhood programs in 2014, and that number is only expected to hit 5% next year. Other states, the Jackson Free Press reports, prioritize those students in their own programs. Did the state detail in its application how additional funding could help it raise that percentage even higher?
With some more specifics and attention to detail, perhaps application No. 4, whenever that might come, will be much more successful — though better pre-K would likely be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to improving education in Mississippi overall. The state also reportedly doesn't require all-day Kindergarten and attendance is only voluntary at that level.