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William Winter and the Education of Mississippi

In 1980, when William Winter became governor of Mississippi, there was no state funded kindergarten. School attendance was not compulsory. Mississippi ranked last in the nation among most educational indicators. And in the more than 25 years that had passed since the 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education decision, the state had not been able to come to terms with school desegregation.

In 1982, Gov. Winter succeeded, against all odds, in passing the most sweeping education reform the state had ever seen, which among other things established kindergarten for all Mississippians.

NPR's Scott Simon visited Jackson, Miss., where Winter still practices law, to talk to the former governor about his service to his state, and his lifelong passion for education. The piece is part of NPR's ongoing series of reports exploring the legacy of the Brown decision.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

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