Current MAEP Funding Formula is an Equitable Solution for Public Education:

Check-BoxBy looking back to the original intent of MAEP, we find that in 2002-03 the proposed base funding amount was $3,804. That amount is not far from the contemplated wholesale reform  amount of base costs of $4,800 under HB 957. Education reform in Mississippi is going backwards.  Education funding has not progressed to meet the needs of all public-school students. Funding proposed in 2018 does not advance Mississippi to a competitive level of student achievement, but instead promotes inequity; attempting to move towards school choice instead of fixing the clear disparities caused by regressive funding over the span of 2002-2018.

To combat the punitive reforms proposed, the answers may be hidden in plain sight within MAEP. Read More →

House Bill 957 passed 66-54, BUT…

school-funding-051916-mb-mgfxIt takes courage to stare down inequality.

House Bill 957 will set public education back by a decade or more in Mississippi, by lowering state costs and shifting the burden of costs to already stressed school districts.

We take this time to regroup and rejoin the fight with renewed focus:


  • A focus on equity for all students, regardless of zip code;
  • A focus on seeking concrete responsibilities for state funding that meets the true needs of students;
  • A focus on raising the bar of equality across all regions of the state;
  • A focus on how the national and state conversation are increasingly more hollow when considering poverty and race; concern for the least of these.

The battle is far from over. In the near term we are faced with bringing real solutions to bear, shining a light on the intended consequences of HB 957.

Now is the time to revisit MAEP and the true meaning of fully funded public education. With equity as the standard, we ask you to join us as we seek proper solutions to counter the dangerous proposals of HB 957.

Next week we will be shining a light on MAEP, Augenblick, and the rise of increasing tax burdens on local communities. With each we are building a path towards equity in public education solutions.

Stay tuned for new analysis, training and ways we can all join the fight..





HB 957: BEWARE of the Mississippi Uniform Per Student Funding Formula Act of 2018


House Bill 957-Filed by: Rep. Philip Gunn [R] & Rep. Greg Snowden [R] (Appropriations)

Stated plainly in Representative Gunn’s own words: ““If our workforce is well educated and trained, we’re going to prosper,” “If it’s not, we won’t.” Under House Bill 957, public education students will not prosper! House Bill 957 is a complete and dangerous rework of MAEP, that takes its cues from last years attempted rewrite through “EdBuild”. However, HB 957 is much more restrictive/punitive in both its funding formula and its severe impact on lower tax based districts…….

Click here to read the full analysis.

Southern Echo Releases New Analysis for 2018 Legislative Session



The 2018 MS Legislative Session has begun and we are confronted with the remnants of last year’s session. Specifically, we are moving into 2018 with the uneasy feeling that MAEP has remained on the table along with: alternative funding proposals, school choice, and accountability grades for school districts.  Below, are our views on the 2017 legislative session to assist in focusing the work needed to avoid dire outcomes from the 2018 legislative session.

In 2017, considerable capital was expended pushing forward the hazy outline for EdBuild; the proposed answer to education funding in Mississippi.  The product was inconclusive, at best, and a sober reminder of what could happen if we do not hold the line in making specific demands on what the educational funding formula should entail. Here you can find our EdBuild first impressions. The outcome was to holdover the conversation to the 2018 session.  We should not let our guards down. Here are a few key considerations related to the failed EdBuild trial bubble:

  1. EdBuild did not provide any concrete appropriations numbers, because that was never the intent;
  2. EdBuild did provide a lens for viewing how school choice becomes the preferred alternative to fully and adequately fund education in Mississippi;
  3. Proponents of EdBuild focused a great amount of time laying out the mechanism for a formula that would hurt districts with smaller tax bases, thus creating a continued divide of resources and renewed focus on school district grading mechanics;
  4. The entire EdBuild process was a success if we do not unify around a strong set of principles for what is needed in the next iteration of funding. The most important principles heading into the session should be:
    • messaging around equity;
    • development of a formula that clearly addresses students needs;
    • solidify stakeholders understanding of school choice and accountability ratings and how these are being used wedge issues to divert attention away from the importance of funding public education in Mississippi.

Messaging is the most effective asset we have going forward.  As you can see from the considerations above, at best the message has been unclear, but that is by design.  If we fall into the trap of formulating unclear messages to stakeholders around funding formulas, we will farther the goals of those that want to put at-risk parties to sleep, thus causing them to lose interest, resulting in lack of understanding, thus reducing their participation in battles to come.

Our message should focus on equity in education funding.  Each of us bring a unique audience to this process of ensuring that any funding formula is equitable to our stakeholders and it is paramount for broad participation.  This is literally “all hands-on-deck” and shaping of the equity message and driving it home must happen through organizing, grassroots efforts, and strategic partnerships.  Otherwise we are going to get swept into the majority mood of formulaic chatter and the push for choice. If that happens there will be a move to divert funds towards school choice and away from any equity funding for all schools in the State of Mississippi.

We are including our recap of last session and a forecast for the 2018 session and an intro to the larger conversation around accountability and how we can assist in shaping the narrative and equip communities with the necessary tools to avoid the move towards consolidation/takeover. As we prepare for the 2018 legislative session and its implications on education issues, we hope this email will serve as an urgent call to action.  If you have any questions, please let us know as we all work together for a better education for all Mississippi children, regardless of race, gender, or economic status.





Office Number: (601) 982-6400

Cell Number: (601) 214-3601

Southern Echo and MS Delta Catalyst Roundtable Submission to MDE on ESSA Plan

ESSA_900x500Southern Echo & The Delta Catalyst Roundtable submitted our comments and concerns to the Mississippi Department of Education on their Every Student Succeeds Act  Draft Plan. We completed the MDE ESSA Online Public Comment Survey. We would like to thank all of the organizations and community people who helped to put all of our concerns and comments into a document to send to MDE. Below you can find our submission to MDE including links to supporting data and research.


Dear Dr. Nathan Oakley:

Southern Echo, Inc. and the Mississippi Delta Catalyst Roundtable are both privileged and excited to submit comments and recommendations on behalf of many communities throughout Mississippi during the public comment period on the Mississippi Consolidated State Plan. As we have developed our public comments to help strengthen the Mississippi Consolidated State Plan for ESSA Implementation, we wanted to highlight several very important concepts.

Read More →