Of the many legacies former Governor William Winter has left, perhaps none has been more significant than his leadership in passing the Mississippi Education Reform Act of 1982.
Among its many reforms, the act mandated statewide public kindergarten and compulsory school attendance, raised standards for teacher and student performance, and created a lay state board of education.
On November 30, the Millsaps College Forum will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the act not only by honoring Winter but also by recognizing some of those closest to the front lines of the reform efforts - including the so-called "Boys of Spring" on Winter's staff and the Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper editor who led The Clarion-Ledger's coverage of the need for education reform.
Entitled "Celebrating Education Reform: Thirty Years Later," the forum will commemorate the past while also reflecting on the future. Along with participants' thoughts and reflections on the past, the discussion will explore how the spirit of the 1982 act can be more fully and finally realized today.
"If improving Mississippi's system of public education was considered important 30 years ago, it is even more significant now," Winter said. "The world has gotten smaller and more competitive since then, and the stakes are incredibly higher now."
Free and open to the public, the forum is scheduled for 12:30-1:30 p.m., November 30, in the Leggett Center at Millsaps.
The "Boys of Spring" gather at the Governor's Mansion on December 20, 1982, to celebrate the successful passage of the Education Reform Act of 1982.
From left: Andy Mullins, Dick Molpus, David Crews, Bill Gartin,
John Henegan, Governor Winter, Ray Mabus.
Former staff members joining Winter will be Dick Molpus, John Henegan, David Crews, and Andy Mullins. Referred to as the "Boys of Spring," they helped to guide passage of the act through the Mississippi Legislature. Since that time, they have continued to promote and enhance Mississippi:
Sharing his perspective of the media's role in the act's passage will be Charles Overby, the Jackson, Miss., native who returned to the state in 1982 to serve as executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger. He led the newspaper's news and editorial coverage, which contributed to the passage of the act and earned The Clarion-Ledger a Pulitzer Prize in 1983.
Overby later became chairman and chief executive officer of the Freedom Forum Foundation and CEO of the Newseum in Washington, D.C. The Freedom Forum promotes First Amendment and media issues, and funds the Newseum, an interactive museum devoted to educating people about the First Amendment.
Overby recently retired from these positions but continues to serve on the Board of Trustees for both the Freedom Forum Foundation and the Newseum. The Overby Center for Southern Journalism and Politics is named in his honor at the University of Mississippi. In May 2012, Overby was awarded an honorary degree from Millsaps.
"The individuals assembled on this panel embody the ideals of inspired civic engagement and effective political leadership," said Millsaps President Dr. Robert Pearigen.
For more information, contact Kenneth Townsend, special assistant to Millsaps President Dr. Robert Pearigen at email@example.com or 601-974-1061.