One week after being elected in 2016, I remember getting a long email from a constituent stating that I was
not fighting hard enough for our kids and that legislators can do more. At the time, I didn't understand why she chose to send me that email so early in my service; literally, I had just gotten elected. It took me a while, but I finally got why she singled me out. It was not personal, but she wanted me to understand the education issues that I had to confront. Though I will not call that individual out by name, I will say
THANK YOU. Your passion made me cognizant of the tough road I was about to travel.
We can easily point fingers and blame others for our educational woes but I refuse to do that. It's counter productive and our kids will still suffer. Instead, we should all consider the below facts and take a unified approach to do our part in getting kids in the Mississippi Delta and Mississippi the best education possible.
According to a recent Mississippi Today study:
- The teacher shortage is six times worse than it was in 1998 when the Critical Teacher Shortage Act was passed.
- A Mississippi Delta school district is 114 times more likely to experience a teacher shortage than a non-Mississippi Delta district.
- A study in the 2017 Mississippi Economic Review found the 3 main predictors for whether a district will experience a shortage are: race, locally generated revenue, and if that district is in the Mississippi Delta.
- Most teacher prep programs in Mississippi don't require teacher candidates to take the courses that would cover the content that teacher admission exams test to predict.
- Top 10 districts with highest rates of uncertified teachers during the 2017-2018 school year:
*Holmes County School District - 34%
*Durant Public School District - 30%
*Yazoo City Municipal School District - 24%
*Hazelhurst City School District - 24%
*West Bolivar Consolidated School District - 22%
*Humphreys County School District - 21%
*South Delta School District - 21%
*Clarksdale Municipal School District - 19%
*Holly Springs School District - 19%
*Coahoma County School District - 19%
The West Bolivar Consolidated School District is in House District 29 where I serve. Additionally, it is the district where my parents graduated high school. For both of those reasons, the success of that districts means a lot to me.
Though it is a rural district, the students at that school deserve the same chance to receive a quality education as kids across Mississippi and around the country.
After looking at the above facts, I ask that we candidly address education issues as a community and as a state. Again, it is easy for us to blame the legislature, Mississippi Department of Education, and others. And don't get me wrong,
there have been MANY mistakes they have collectively made. As other legislators and I continue to fight for public education in Jackson during session, I am asking that we take a more aggressive local approach to making things better. What can and must we do?
- We can/must continue to fight for equity (funding, policy, testing, etc.) in public schools at the state and federal level.
- We can/must encourage more individuals to go into the field of education, but we must also show that we value their efforts.
- We can/must discuss "challenges" and "opportunities" with school board members and school district administration.
In conclusion, please notice that I didn't say you, but I used the word "WE" because I also have a HUGE part to play. I refuse to give up on our kids, and I am hopeful there are some people who feel the same way.
Representative Abe Marshall Hudson, Jr.
House District 29 (Bolivar and Sunflower Counties)