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Education Reform Off To Rough Start

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 09 Jan 2013 08:42pm | comments
The education committee meets for the first time.

Education reform in Mississippi is off to a rocky start in the state legislature. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that a presentation of the Governor's education agenda met bi-partisan resistance on the house education committee.

A representative for Governor Phil Bryant explained the Governor's education reform goals to the house education Committee Wednesday.

Some of the top objectives for the governor include expanding charter schools, creating a privately funded scholarship program to send kids to private school, and allowing students to attend school in a district they don't live in.

Many on the committee are expressing skepticism about the plans, including some republicans like Forest Hamilton of Olive Branch.

"Charter schools? That is going to solve the problem for the 2%? What about the 98%? We need to be concerned about 98% of the people. And I think it is time as legislators that we step to the plate," Hamilton said.

Democrats have broadly opposed much of the Governor's agenda in past sessions and question his goals again.

Democrat Rufus Straughter of Belzoni wonders why the Governor has taken, what he considers, a sudden interest in poor and minority students.

"What bothers me is the Governor has come up with a plan that only, in my opinion, he and few people around him have talked about. He hasn't been to my community to talk about none of this. Yet he is adamant about what he wants to do," Straughter said.

Committee Chairman John Moore of Brandon is expected to author the Governor's bill and push it in the house.

Moore says unless lawmakers attempt ambitious education reform, the state will continue to have poor educational outcomes.

"Otherwise, we have to make some changes that are going to hurt some feels. There are some people that been in some positions of responsibility and been responsible up to this point that have failed," Moore said.

It is still very early in the session and any potential bills the legislature approves still have a long way to go before they are sent to the Governor's desk.

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The education committee meets for the first time.


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