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Mississippi Senate Passes Sweeping Education Bill

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 12 Mar 2013 06:42pm | comments
Senator Gray Tollison debates with Senator David Jordan.

The Mississippi Senate has approved a sweeping 108-page education reform bill. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports the omnibus bill includes a broad array changes intended to improve education in Mississippi.

House bill 890, included nearly every education reform goal sought by Republican leaders.

Including holding back third graders that can't read, raising the qualifications to become a teacher, making kindergarten mandatory, and loosening the charter school law.

Speaking on the Senate floor, Education Committee chair Gray Tollison of Oxford says Mississippi needs to be ambitious with education reform.

"There are so many things that play a role in an improved education system. Millions of dollars makes a difference in this state. And we have to decide if we are going to be more aspirational with raising the level of achievement in this state or not," Tollison said.

The charter school provision drew the most opposition, mostly from Democrats like Senator Hob Bryan of Amory who says charter schools will cherry pick only the best students and drain resources from public schools.

"They have got to chop us and dice us and send us in 18 different directions. You go to this school. You go to this charter school. You go to this school for this, that or the other thingamajig. You go over here to this school. To divide the community. To make sure that we do not have anything in common," Bryan said.

The Senate did strip a provision from the bill that would have allowed the state to take over individual failing schools.

Many of the provisions in this bill are still alive as standalone legislation....the deadline for floor action is today.

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Senator Gray Tollison debates with Senator David Jordan.


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