Gov. Bryant Signs Education BillBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 17 Apr 2013 03:01pm |
An ambitious set of changes to Mississippi's education system is now law. Gov. Phil Bryant has signed a set of bills known as the 'education works' package.
Returning to the site where he originally declared this legislative session 'the year of the student' Gov. Bryant signed four bills that he believes will improve education in Mississippi.
Bryant says the biggest change is a bill making it easier to open a charter school.
Other legislation includes: a focus on third grade reading, state support for pre-K, a pilot teacher merit pay program, raising the standards to become a teacher and a scholarship program to encourage top ranked students to pursue teaching.
"(I) Believe this to be the most comprehensive and substantial education reform act in Mississippi's history. I was around in 1982 and I understand the importance. I witnessed that. I realized the effectiveness of that program. 30 years later we are here again to do the very same thing," Bryant said.
Interim Superintendent of Education Dr. Lynn House says the challenge now is seeing the broad changes implemented across the state.
"But we have got to sort of re-tool our thinking around what is reform really about. And what can we do to get innovation in place in our schools. And so I think we are all excited about the prospects of where we are going but we have lots of detail that has to be worked out," House said.
The legislation was largely driven and supported by Republicans.
On the final day of the legislative session, Democratic Senator David Jordan of Greenwood said the way to improve education in the state is to increase funding to schools.
"I am disappointed that public education didn't get the funding that she needed. And that we are trying other methods and taking away from it and putting the two entities competing against each other. But that is the way to cookie crumbled," Jordan said.
All of the legislation takes effect July first.
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