Minnesota legislators enjoy looking down their progressive noses at “the Deep South” and their supposed backward ways. During her eight years of service on the Metropolitan Council, Freedom Foundation of Minnesota CEO Annette Meeks heard this often, too. (When a Metropolitan Council Environmental Services executive found out she grew up in St. Louis, he gleefully informed her of the “backward” ways of St. Louis and how far superior our wastewater treatment was in Minnesota. He was surprised to learn that they wore shoes and didn’t eat dirt.)
Well, no more.
Mississippi officials declared a few years ago that the key to a child’s lifetime success was reading.
They turned their statewide reading program upside down and developed a phonics-focused system with intensive training for teachers. As a result, “Mississippi went from being ranked the second-worst state in 2013 for fourth-grade reading to 21st in 2022. Louisiana and Alabama, meanwhile, were among only three states to see modest gains in fourth-grade reading during the pandemic, which saw massive learning setbacks in most other states.” This occurred in one of the poorest states in the nation.
Furthermore, “Mississippi, for one, holds students back in third grade if they cannot pass a reading test but also gives them multiple chances to pass after intensive tutoring and summer literacy camps.
Alabama will adopt a similar retention policy next school year. It also sent over 30,000 struggling readers to summer literacy camps last year. Half of those students tested at grade level by the end of the summer.”
So, while the Minnesota’s teacher’s union continues to spend billions of our tax dollars because they falsely equate spending more money per classroom with better learning, it appears the secret to a student’s success was right underneath our pointed noses all along: empowering teachers to teach reading via phonics to every child and to believe that every child can learn regardless of background, ethnicity or poverty.
You can read more about the southern state surge in education HERE.