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MEC Captial Day Focuses on Education

By Daniel Cherry | Published 10 Jan 2013 07:16pm | comments
State leaders say Mississippi's underperforming education system is a major threat to future business development. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports, many of this legislative session's big issues focus on education reforms.
 
Tom Gresham is President of the Double Quick convenience store chain. They're based in Indianola and found all over the Delta. Gresham employs about 900 people. 
 
"I need skilled people to employ to work for me, and they want the same things in life that we want. They want good communities to live in, they want good schools to raise their children, and we just have to have it."
 
At the Mississippi Economic Council's 14th annual Capital Day, nearly one thousand businessmen and women heard from top leaders and lawmakers. Blake Wilson is President of the MEC. He says improving the quality of the state's workforce educated in Mississippi schools has to be a high priority.
 
"If we are not implementing some of the cutting edge education reform activities, we are going to be left behind. People are going to say, 'We need a qualified workforce', and if Mississippi doesn't do the right things today, we're not going to be able to compete tomorrow."
 
Governor Phil Bryant laid out his Mississippi Education Works agenda to MEC members. On the list are about ten items including performance based pay for teachers, improving literacy skills, and, of course, charter schools. Bryant says it's an ambitious agenda, and he doesn't necessarily expect to get all items passed this session.
 
"If we can get three this year, a couple next year...the legislature moves methodically. That's the way it was designed to do. But I'd be very satisfied to get a portion of this agenda this year, and we're going to move forward in the years to come to get all of it implemented."
 
Bryant is also calling for scholarships for high performing students wanting to be teachers and open enrollment so children can cross district lines to attend a school of their choice. Daniel Cherry...MPB News.

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