Governor Phil Bryant signed four bills into law Wednesday that he calls "Education Works" reform.
Senate Bill 2658 creates 200 scholarships for high-performing high school students who want to be teachers. The students must commit to study in Mississippi, then teach here. This bill also paves the way for merit pay for teachers.
Senate Bill 2347 requires students to read at a third grade level before they begin fourth grade. The legislature put $9.5 million aside for students who need reading help.
Senate Bill 2188 is designed to improve teacher quality in Mississippi schools. Students who want to be teachers need a 2.75 GPA and a 21 on the ACT to be admitted to education programs in our state universities.
Finally, House Bill 369 makes it easier for districts to create public charter schools, giving parents more education options for their children.
After a busy session, Governor Bryant is excited about the Legislature's work to improve education in Mississippi.
"I know it's never perfect," says the Governor. "But we cannot let perfection become an enemy of good."
Governor Bryant believes these four new laws are good.
"Those of us that support these laws that I'm about to sign believe this to be the most comprehensive transformational educational reform act in Mississippi history," says Governor Bryant.
The Mississippi Board of Education endorses three of the four new laws-- charter schools being the exception.
"Work really is just now beginning in terms of taking those bills and pulling them apart," says Deputy State Superintendent, Dr. Lynn House. "But we're very excited about the future and what we're going to look like as a state in terms of education."
Sitting at an old teacher's desk at Northwest Rankin High School, the Governor signed the four bills into law. Rankin County's Superintendent is excited about the reform.
"We're a good school district," says Dr. Lynn Weathersby. "We're a hard-working school district. But education in Mississippi needs help, and we believe that some of these bills--all of these bills--will be a step in the right direction.
The Governor's "Education Works" reform also includes money for "Teach for America" and high school dropout prevention.
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