Student Teachers Could Be Unemployed

Leslie Mullinix has spent the last three years training for this moment.

"I grew up in this community," the student teacher said. "And I just wanted to continue to give back to my community."

But the Woolmarket Elementary student teacher's immediate future is suddenly in jeopardy. The longer lawmakers squabble over education funding, the harder it becomes for Mullinix -- or any other teacher in training -- to get Mississippi teaching jobs this fall.

"It's daunting because I can't see laying off experienced teachers for someone who has no experience," she said. "I had wanted to stay in this community. But it may not happen."

Because of the budget crisis, Mullinix is willing to uproot her 10-year-old son, and accept an out-of-state teaching position.

"He is just on board with me trying to get us a better life," said Mullinix. "He understands that this is something we may have to do for us to get that life started."

If education budget issues aren't resolved fairly soon, fellow student teacher Stephania Norris may temporarily go back to her pharmacy tech job.

"I feel like I may not be able to get a job right now," Norris said. "But I believe that I will find one. I remain very optimistic about my future."

So does Leslie Mullinix -- because her family is counting on this single parent to become a full time teacher.

This Friday is the deadline for public schools to tell teachers whether they'll have jobs next year.

Governor Barbour must call a special session before July first so lawmakers can come up with some way to resolve the state's budget mess.