William Winter and the Education of Mississippi

Former Governor Reflects on Efforts to Modernize Schools

William F. Winter, Governor of Mississippi 1980-1984

William F. Winter as Governor of Mississippi (1980-1984) Mississippi Department of Archives and History hide caption

itoggle caption Mississippi Department of Archives and History

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.

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