/Lt Gov Reeves will push for more school choice options

Lt Gov Reeves will push for more school choice options

JACKSON — Lieutenant Governor. JACKSON — Lt. Gov. It is not a secret that many public schools in the state lack the necessary skills to produce students who are proficient in science, math, and reading. Reeves met with Mississippi Press Corps students Wednesday afternoon to discuss the underlying issues in education and how improvements can be made to improve educational outcomes for students. Reeves, a strong supporter of school choice, believes that parents should decide where their child is educated, and not the government. Reeves stated, “I strongly believe in giving parents the option of what’s best” for their child. Reeves stated that parents are better able to decide what’s best for their child than any government entity. The Senate approved the changes to the charter school-law in 2016. The law was amended to allow students to attend charter schools if their school district received a grade of “C”, “D”, or F. According to the Mississippi Department of Education 2017, 42 districts received a C, 36 received a F, and nine received a F. According to the Mississippi Department of Education 2017 Accountability report, two of the 36 districts that received D grades were charter schools. One of the nine F districts was also a charter school. The lieutenant governor is proud of Mississippi’s recent improvement in high school graduation rates, which rose from 70.5 percent last year to more than 82 percent. Many of the poorest districts are in low-income areas where poverty rates are high. According to the United States Census Bureau, Holmes County School District was given an F in 2017. This is because 43.4 percent of its population lives below the poverty level. Education advocates believe this is a problem that can be seen across the state. Reeves stated that students will have greater success if they attend public charter schools located in low-income areas. Reeves stated, “There are some that believe low-income people and children can’t be educated. I disagree with them.” “In fact, I believe they can learn just the same speed and as well as other students in our state if you give them the right environment.” But, why not create charter schools to move students around and improve traditional public schools that are poor performers? Reeves stated that charter schools will make traditional public schools more competitive, which will result in better academic achievement. However, the lieutenant governor acknowledges that it will take more than just competition between schools to improve education and student quality. Reeves is in favor of having school boards elected with an appointed superintendent overseeing day-to-day operations. This will help to reduce the number of school districts and improve the quality. The ideal size for a school district would be between 4,500 to 5,000 students. Reeves stated that this size is large enough to provide quality leadership. It also allows for a calculus teacher and an advanced math teacher. However, it’s not too big to ensure that many kids are lost in the shuffle. Reeves said that although the “brain drain” topic is a frequent topic of discussion among state officials, it is not as serious as many people believe. Reeves stated that statistics show that 89 percent of Mississippi’s students who attend one of eight higher education institutions — and have graduated from Mississippi high schools — remain in the state after graduation. According to the Mississippi Brain Drain Commission, however, there are fewer people who enter the workforce than those who have a four-year degree. This commission is a group of public, private and trade organizations that work together to reduce Mississippi’s brain drain through awareness, policy, development, and policy. Reeves stated that millennials move to Mississippi because they want to live in big cities. Mississippi has only one metropolitan area. Reeves hopes that the legislation establishing the Capitol Complex Improvement District will make Jackson more appealing to young workers.