HATTIESBURG, MISS. - Thursday evening, four Mississippi lawmakers traveled from the capital to William Carey University to hear the concerns of teachers and superintendents in the local area.
Lawmakers answered questions from those in attendance at the Phi Delta Kappa Mississippi Legislative Panel. The four lawmakers in attendance Sen. (Dist. 44) John Polk, Rep. (Dist. 90) Noah Sanford, Rep. (Dist. 75) Tom Miles, and Rep. (Dist. 12) Jay Hughes each explained what they believed might happen during this year’s legislative session.
“Well, the things that I would love to see the most that could affect and improve Mississippi, unfortunately, did not make it through the legislator,” Hughes explained.
Hughes refers to bills that would bring raises to schools and reduced the number of standardized tests taken by students.
“We need to eliminate a lot of our testing that we are doing now,” Scott Dearman, a superintendent from Perry County said. “We are over-testing.”
“Teachers are focused so much on testing that they don’t have time to teach and get students to their goal,” Hughes followed-up. “When all we do in public schools is tests, the students don’t learn… they memorize and regurgitate.”
However, the biggest issues surrounding education in Miss. seem to be more focused on funding, and whether the current formula provides schools with enough money.
“One thing we got to remember is that change is slow," Polk said. Especially, in the Mississippi legislator."
Polk mentioned the process could take up to four-to-five years before education sees a significant change. However, with this year being an election year, some lawmakers believe the process could be delayed an additional year.
“It’s sad that this year in the legislature, nobody wants to rock the boat,” Hughes said. “The reality is we ought to be rocking the boat every single year.”
Despite, the stagnant atmosphere surrounding education in this year’s legislative session, some politicians still believe that lawmakers will find a way to pass “teacher pay raises” before the session is over, which Governor Phil Bryant recommended this past November.