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.

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EdBuild First Impressions

school-funding 2On Monday, January 16, 2017, the CEO of EdBuild presented to the Mississippi Legislature its recommendations on how best to dismantle the current funding mechanisms for public education in the state. EdBuild’s full report on the current funding mechanisms and recommendations can be found here.

Here you can find Southern Echo’s first impression and analysis of EdBuild’s recommendations.

Southern Echo believes the Mississippi Legislature, School Districts and Community should say NO to EdBuild’s proposal because it will destroy our public education in Mississippi by removing the required funding. Please contact your local State Representatives and Senators to side with community in saying NO to these recommendations!

Mississippi Legislative Toolkit

The 2017 Mississippi Legislature opened for business on Noon Tuesday, January 3, 2017. The 2017 regular session is scheduled to end April 2, 2017. Southern Echo is pleased to announce the availability of the a 2017 Mississippi Legislative Toolkit to assist in following and understanding the legislative activities.

The 2017 Mississippi Legislative Tool-Kit consist of the following:

Southern Echo hopes the Legislative Toolkit will be useful in analyzing and understanding the 2017 Mississippi Legislative activities.

Second Meeting with EdBuild on Revamp of MAEP Scheduled!

IMG_0510In an effort to continue the open dialogue with the public regarding the Legislature’s examination of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) formula, Speaker Phillip Gunn and Lt. Governor Tate Reeves announced on Tuesday, November 14th, the second public meeting with EdBuild, the nonprofit hired to look at and recommend suggestions for revamping the formula.

The meeting will be held Thursday, November 17th, at 4 p.m. in Room 113 of the Mississippi State Capital. The meeting will last one hour. Education Committee leadership will facilitate the meeting.

The public is invited to attend this meeting and offer suggestions as to what they would like to see in a restructured formula. Attendees may make three minute comments at the meeting. To do so, you MUST bring a written comment or email with Public Meeting in the subject line. The written comments will be accepted to share with EdBuild as they assist with the review of MAEP. Speaking sign-up sheets will be available at the meeting.