Governor Touts New Education Reforms

Governor Haley Barbour stopped by D'Iberville Elementary School Monday to read to first and fourth graders. He says he would like every Mississippi school to achieve the level 5 status that several coast schools have already reached.

"Not every school in Mississippi is like D'Iberville Elementary School, a level five school. In fact, most are not and our education is improving but we need to improve more," the governor says.

Governor Barbour says in some school districts that will mean drastic educational and policy changes, without dipping into the state finances.

"I don't advocate less money but we can't just keep throwin' money. There are other things we can do that are not things that cost money and we're gonna try to figure out what some of those are too."

Harrison County's school superintendent likes the priority the governor is giving education. But Henry Arledge wonders where the money will come from to pay for better schools.

"The problem in the past in the last four or five years has been the economy's gone bad and they then had teacher payraises involved and in order to fund a teacher payraise there had to be cuts in other places and that's put a burden on local schools. We made it last year. I'm not for sure how long we're gonna continue to do that," Arledge says.

That's an issue the governor will discuss with educators during a series of statewide meetings over the next month. Teachers say they like being included in the talks.

"I think if he gets with other educators and finds out what's goin' on in the classroom, what we're lacking, what we need, what we're doing very well with, I think he'll do a very good job," says D'Iberville fourth grade teacher Amber Bentz.

The first of four statewide education meetings will take place next week in Jackson. The governor says he will get ideas from one hundred classroom teachers on ways to give education in our state a better grade.