Giving parents a choice in their child's education - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Giving parents a choice in their child's education

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

If you ask Senior Director of Education Studies for the Pacific Research Institute, Lance Izumi, Mississippi's Educational System could use a little improving. Izumi was in Jackson Tuesday afternoon discussing what he says needs to happen.

Currently, Mississippi has a 39% dropout rate and only about 52% of third graders are reading at grade level. While the state is making strides in improving education, Izumi says even notable districts still need development.

"Students in these districts such as DeSoto County and Jackson County don't perform very well when compared with our international competitors," said Izumi.

Izumi says improvement starts with competition by giving parents options, whether it be through charter schools or a voucher system. Both would allow state money to follow the child to a school chosen by the parent.

"Only when you give the parents a means to exit the system for a better alternative someplace else, is it going to send a message to the system to improve and also give the parent an immediate benefit of having a better education for their child," said Izumi.

"There are students out there that want to learn and they're not getting their needs met," said Senate education chairman, Senator Gray Tollison.

Tollison says the state needs educational choices. Despite failed charter school legislation a few months ago, Tollison says the topic should be revisited.

"We want to continue to work on our traditional public schools and make sure they're doing the best they can but at the same time we need the competition and choice in those areas where schools aren't working for the parents and the students," said Tollison, a Republican from Oxford.

"You can't wait for years for the system to improve on its own," said Izumi.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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