School Funding

Mississippi is Outspent by All Neighboring States

A growing body of evidence confirms that an increased investment in public education leads to better student outcomes. States that spend more – and equitably – tend to enjoy higher achievement, while states that spend less see poorer outcomes. That’s bad news for Mississippi children.

Mississippi’s public school students have their education funded at a level that is among the lowest in the nation; lower, even, than every single one of our closest neighbors: Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, and Tennessee. Yes, even Arkansas outspends Mississippi by $1,200 per student. Every year.

In almost every year since our school funding law, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, was passed, a majority of the Legislature has voted to provide schools less that what their own formula says students need to be successful. Some have alleged that the formula is unreasonable – that it requires a level of spending that is just too much to ask. 

The truth is that the MAEP requires less than what our neighboring states provide their children. Even if the MAEP were fully funded, our neighboring states would outspend Mississippi by $800 per student. See infograph.

Much of that under-funding comes at the expense of Mississippi teachers, who are the lowest paid in the nation. Low salaries contribute to a declining interest in education as a profession, and that has led to a teacher shortage crisis – which exacerbates all other challenges facing public schools.

Does more money guarantee better achievement? No. But every single thing that leads to better achievement costs money. Aren’t our children worth our investment?