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Education Chairmen Predict Reform Agenda Will Pass

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 20 Mar 2013 03:41pm | comments
Chairman John Moore

The chairmen of the Mississippi house and senate education committees say they are confident that an ambitious education agenda will survive the legislative process. 

The two Republican committee chairmen, Representative John Moore of Brandon and Senator Gray Tollison of Oxford, say they are working closely together to push a large set of changes to Mississippi's education system.

Among the bills still alive in the legislative process are: Making it easier to open charter school in Mississippi, a pre-K education program, more focus on third grade reading and having all superintendents be appointed.

Representative Moore says this session is different because political leadership is unified to shake up education in Mississippi.

"The thing that is very unique about this year is we have a Governor, a Lt. Governor, a speaker of the House and a chairman of the Senate education committee and the house education committee that are not afraid of the status quo," Moore said.

Most of the education reform bills are now in the compromise process between the two chambers.

Sen. Tollison says he hopes the bills will pass and show that Mississippi can move off the bottom of the education ladder.

"We are our own worst enemy sometimes. We have got to change that attitude and it takes one step at a time doing it. And if we can improve education I think it will do a lot toward improving that attitude," Tollison said.

Other bills still in the legislative process aim to improve the quality of Mississippi's teachers.

Kelly Reilly, the executive director of Mississippi Professional Educators, says the heavy focus on education has left a number of teachers feeling attacked and left out of the process.

"I don't think that you improve the system by beating down the people that are in the classroom day in and day out doing an incredible job under very trying circumstances with limited resources to educate our children.  I think we have to all work together. I think we have to recognize our strengths as well as our weaknesses," Reilly said.

Reilly says it is important to bring teachers into the process because well intentioned legislation can sometimes have unexpected consequences in the classroom.

The deadline for compromise bills to be filed in the legislature is April 1st.

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Chairman John Moore


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