CONTACT: Office of the Governor
Pete Smith (601) 359-3150 or (601) 720-8733
Kathryn Stewart (601) 359-3150

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, March 24, 2005

GOVERNOR BARBOUR URGES CONFEREES TO PASS “UPGRADE” EDUCATION REFORM BEFORE DEADLINE

(Jackson, Miss.) – In the final stages of the legislative process, Governor Barbour’s ‘UpGrade’ Education package, Senate Bill 2504, is pending in a Conference Committee after passing the House and Senate in differing forms. The legislation is awaiting a vote by the six conferees, just a few days before Monday’s deadline, when all conference reports are to be filed.

“These education reforms are too important and must be passed this Session,” said Governor Barbour. “These ideas do not require additional spending which is welcome news due to our current budget crisis. Even in tough financial times, improving education should remain the top priority for state government.”

Conferees in the Senate are Senators Mike Chaney, Terry Burton, and Alan Nunnelee, while conferees in the House are Representatives Cecil Brown, John Mayo, and Billy Broomfield. The Governor urged the conferees to reach a compromise and file a conference report by the Monday deadline.

The ‘UpGrade’ education package is highlighted by proposals to liberate Level 4 and 5 schools in Mississippi from state bureaucracy, give teachers raises based on increases in student learning and performance, redesign high schools to better prepare students for college and work, privatize non-education functions, require more parental involvement in school discipline problems, and give incentives to child care centers that offer more learning opportunities for pre-school children.

The Governor held several education forums last fall to get input from more than 1,000 teachers, administrators, legislators, business leaders, and parents about the fundamental needs of the state’s education system. Those recommendations led to the creation of ‘UpGrade’ – the most comprehensive education reform proposal since the 1982 Education Reform Act.

“‘UpGrade’ is about empowering local leaders and communities to be free of state bureaucracy so they can innovate and upgrade student achievement in their schools,” said Governor Barbour. “It is time for Mississippi to start focusing on education fundamentals and not just education funding.”

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Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741