As Mississippi's favorite literary son William Faulkner wrote, "The past is not dead. In fact, it's not even past." The history of slavery still perpetuates the racial tensions and socio-economic disparities in today's Mississippi. In fact, the Mississippi Delta is lamented by the Smithsonian as a "Third World country in the heart of America." The interplay of race and poverty in rural education blatantly limits the futures of children living in high-poverty, critical-need regions. Without compulsory early childhood education, most Mississippi children hear, on average, 20,000 fewer words than their peers by age five, the time by which the brain is 90% developed. These children then matriculate into an inherently broken education system that ushers their generation not into institutions of higher education but to the prison system. To break the cycle, systemic change must be implemented at the beginning of a child’s education.
My project is to write and distribute lesson plans for early childhood/daycare teachers and more educational resources for parents of young children to ameliorate the plight of poor early childhood education.
I do not know that I can measure the impact my project will make by strict quantitative measures. However, I do feel that the outcomes can be detected in their qualitatively. Psychological research and PISA studies has shown that adult attention int the formative years of childhood is absolutely imperative to a child's development academically and socially. In that my mother works for the Early Childhood Institute at Mississippi State University, I believe that she will help me implement low-risk strategies to measure progress in institutions of early childhood education.
I hope to work with the Mississippi Teacher Corps, Barksdale Reading Institute, and Southern Education Foundation.