GOVERNOR BARBOUR SIGNS BILL TO “UPGRADE” PUBLIC EDUCATION
(Saltillo, Mississippi) – Flanked by students, teachers and administrators at Saltillo High School in Lee County, Governor Haley Barbour on Tuesday signed into law major reforms that he proposed to upgrade public education.
The bill Governor Barbour signed, Senate Bill 2602, contains a number of reforms designed to enhance public education, which he stressed is “the number one economic development issue and the number one quality of life issue in our state.”
Governor Barbour said 62 percent of the Mississippi budget goes for education. “Thanks to a multi-year commitment our public school teachers are making 30 percent more than five years ago. State spending on K-12 education is 7.2 percent, or $143 million, higher than last year. Per student spending in our public schools is more than $7,000 this year, a record amount,” he said.
He also noted that after several years of declining spending, more funding has been appropriated for universities and community colleges.
“Building a stronger education system has always been about more than money. UpGrade is not about funding; it’s about fundamentals. The bills I am signing here today are integral pieces of a concept that has become a reality,” Governor Barbour said.
The proposals under the umbrella of the UpGrade Education reforms were developed with strong support from Governor Barbour’s 250 member Teachers Advisory Commission.
Among the reforms are these:
• Liberate successful schools from repetitive bureaucracy. Schools that achieve Level 4 and 5 accreditation ratings will be freed from some of the cumbersome oversight from Jackson. As a result, the State Department of Education can better focus its resources on the lower performing schools,where the attention is most needed.
• Focus on dropout prevention. Nearly 40 percent of Mississippi school children drop out before they graduate. UpGrade creates a position within the Department of Education whose responsibility it will be to dramatically lower this number in the next three years.
“We must constantly pursue innovative, creative policies that help us achieve greater increases in learning. UpGrade does that,” Governor Barbour said.
Governor Haley Barbour
P.O. Box 139 Jackson, MS 39205
Phone: 601.359.3150 Fax: 601.359.3741