FLOWOOD, Miss.–Education reform bills were signed into law Wednesday by Governor Phil Bryant in front of a crowd at Northwest Rankin High School.
The four bills covered the creation of charter schools in the state, targeted the literacy of third-graders, gave incentives to Mississippi students who pledge to teach in state, and also to help struggling school districts find better solutions.
“The change enacted by this legislation will help the state create and retain the best teachers, create public charter schools of excellence that will help give students in failing schools access to higher education, and create reading practices that will stop the exercise of social promotion,” said Gov. Phil Bryant.
One of the more controversial bills that became law was the creating of charter schools inside the state. It expands opportunities for the creation of those schools in low-performing D and F school districts and allows other districts with a C-rating or higher to choose whether or not to allow such a school in their area.
“I believe public charter schools will help Mississippi’s educational challenges, and I have a simple belief that competition is an innovative way of introducing new ideas into the classroom,” Gov. Bryant said.
He spoke Wednesday about the private sector having competition at all levels and how it would help education overall in the state.
Incentives to keep the brightest students in Mississippi as teachers were addressed during the legislative session and on Wednesday Kaylee Craft, a student with a 28 ACT and a 3.98 GPA said it would greatly help her.
“I know I keep saying this, but I am very excited about this bill and the opportunity I may have ahead,” she said.
Craft would be eligible for one of the 200 scholarships for students with a 3.5 high school GPA and 28 ACT if she committed to teaching in the state for five years. Eligible participants also would get a $6,000 stipend if they agree to teach in critical need areas.
Governor Bryant also spoke on the importance of reading literacy for the Magnolia State’s third graders and how students that are below their reading level will not be promoted to the next grade just for the sake of it.
“State tests show that nearly half of all third graders are not proficient in reading based on state testing,” he said. “We also know that lack of reading ability increases a student’s likelihood of dropping out and increases the likelihood he or she will need public assistance.”
Other parts of the “Education Works” reform from this last session include directing $6 million to Teach for America and also directing $300,000 to training for Dyslexia professionals among other things.