SCHOOL SCENE: Good news and bad news about state's public education

What's the adage about good news versus bad news? It takes something like 250 people spreading the good news to counteract the one person touting the bad news.

With that in mind, I can't help but think that the good news about public education in Mississippi is overwhelming!

Here's the good news. Our kids, our teachers and our schools ARE making a difference every day. Test scores in reading, writing, math and science are up. We have one computer for about every five students throughout the state. More students are taking the ACT than ever before.

We have one of the best programs in the nation to meet the needs of gifted and talented students. Our teachers are among the best in the nation. We have 2,111 National Board Certified Teachers. That's less than five other states but probably more percentage wise. Schools are the safest places for kids to be.

Getting closer to home, we are most fortunate here in Starkville. Education IS a priority in this community. We expect the best from students and staff. With a mission of pursuing excellence in teaching and learning, we are not satisfied with the status quo.

Our student performance in test scores, writing proficiency, graduation and extra curricular activities continues to improve. We have 67 certified personnel with National Boards credentials. That's 24 percent of our certified staff.

Why are these things happening? We have been proactive in our efforts to bring these good things to fruition. We have spent time, money, hard work and focused expertise to bring this about.

Here's the bad news: We continue to question funding for schools, teachers and continued growth in education.

With all the great things that we are accomplishing, why are we confronted with the harsh reality of a continued reduction in educational funding? The gains we have made in public education have not come easily, nor will continued gains come cheap.

Education of our children and grandchildren is the future of Mississippi. Fully funding MAEP is one way to ensure that we continue to provide the very best educational services for all of our children.

Janet Henderson, Ed.D., is assistant superintendent of the Starkville School District.

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