With new education law, Miss. must challenge itself

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Earlier this month, the President signed into law the Every Child Succeeds Act, the federal education law that replaces No Child Left Behind.

We are optimistic this legislation, which gives more education oversight to the states, will be good for Mississippi. However, we wish to remind our lawmakers that Mississippi would do well to have stricter educational standards.

No Child Left Behind was criticized for its one-size-fits-all approach to testing and the penalties that came with poor test scores. However, its purpose was sound: It proved clearly that some districts that had high graduation rates were passing students who, in other states, would have been failing. In short, it proved that when left to their own devices, states are too eager to only measure against themselves—leaving wide-open the possibility for relaxed standards.

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We have good schools in Pearl River County, but when our state tries to lure big industry here, we rely in part on our whole state’s image. The fact is, our education system is still among the worst in the nation. The state of our education system hurts not just our ability to attract industry, but our higher education system, too. When we pass students who should not be passed, our colleges and universities must then spend effort and money on remedial education, teaching things that ought to have been learned in high school, if not earlier. If Mississippi hopes to compete against its neighbors for jobs, and if we want to keep our education standards strong, our state has to enact tough academic standards to get where we need to be. Ideally these standards would have some similarity to other states.

Common Core provides some of that necessary competition, and we urge our state leadership to reconsider their opposition to this voluntary framework. It is important to Mississippi school children to not only succeed, but to succeed when compared to kids in Tennessee, Massachusetts and California.