Coast Superintendents React To Education Bill

Biloxi prides itself in being a level five school district. The education bill that just passed Congress is trying to boost classroom performance in public schools all across the country. But Biloxi's school superintendent says his biggest concern about the bill is funding.

"If we're talking about a number of mandates that will be required of school districts and the school districts are going to have to pick up the costs, then that means the local taxpayer is going to pick up a significant portion of that, and I would have some problems with that," Superintendent Dr. Larry Drawdy said.

One of the mandates includes requiring school districts to test every student in grades three through eight in both reading and math every year. Mark Peresich, the assistant superintendent of curriculum in Ocean Springs, says Mississippi is already ahead of the curve.

"In Mississippi, we have one of the most ambitious state testing programs anywhere in the country," Peresich said. "We have a system in place where we test students 2 through 8, in reading, language arts and math."

Educators say the bill does have some strong points. It allows school districts more freedom concerning how they spend their federal dollars.

"If they would give the local districts a great deal of autonomy to be able to make decisions that affect their communities, then I think this will be a marvelous step in the right direction," Dr. Drawdy said.

President Bush says the education bill is one of his top priorities, and he is expected to sign it into law any day.