William Winter and the Education of Mississippi NPR's Scott Simon talks with former Mississippi Gov. William Winter. During his years in office, from 1980 to 1984, Gov. Winter overhauled an impoverished state's educational system and addressed desegregation.
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William Winter and the Education of Mississippi

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William Winter and the Education of Mississippi

William Winter and the Education of Mississippi

Former Governor Reflects on Efforts to Modernize Schools

William Winter and the Education of Mississippi

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

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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.