Mississippi Education Reform Collaborative
P3 Strategies served as the staff of Mississippi Education Reform Collaborative (MERC). MERC was an organization of superintendents who came together voluntarily to do "what needs to be done for children and their communities." MERC shares best practices, pooled resources, coordinated activities, monitored legislative and regulatory proposals and advocatesdfor children and their communities.
Founding members from left to right,
Mr. James Bacchus, Dr. Cedric Gray,
Dr. Jacquelyn Thigpen, Dr. Gwendolyn Shannon, Dr. Cederick Ellis and Mr. Jimmy Hopkins
While their districts are diverse in size and geography, their students are largely from minority, low-income families. And while their roles as superintendents are different in each community, they share common problems in seeking to move the needle of success. In monthly facilitated thought sessions, MERC superintendents honestly raised issues, concerns and seek advice from their peers. MERC superintendents relied on one another and had a bond of trust and relationship that let them speak freely, ask questions and learn in a manner not available in other professional and/or community settings.
MERC member districts pooled resources to provide specialized training. Working collaboratively made it possible for MERC superintendents to provide specialized training that they may not otherwise be able to afford.
MERC superintendents adopted and became crusaders within the state education community for the use of sophisticated data analytics to specifically identify students with needs to improve their performance and overall school performance.
MERC superintendents had the advantage of working with solid, objective, real-time information about their district that gave them the ability to initiate policies and procedures to address their unique issues.
MERC districts worked to inform and engage in advocacy that would further the development of not only MERC district schools, but also improve educational policy in the state of Mississippi. MERC issued major reports to inform legislators and opinion leaders of the facts surrounding their districts and policy initiatives that would improve education.
Sharing Success provided a representative look of low-income districts and the opportunities available in their districts.
The Impact of Funding Reductions on Mississippi Low-Income School Districts provided state leaders and opinion makers information on the impact of reduced funding experienced after the 2008 recession and how ongoing shortages of MAEP funding has greater harm on low-income districts.
MERC Annual Report 2014 provided a profile of the districts and their program of work.
The Methodology of Collaboration provided insights into how a successful educational collaborative operates.