The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

State and Nation

May 6, 2013

Mississippi prepares new push on education


One big change coming in Mississippi is a requirement to hold back children in grades K-3 who aren't reading at grade level. That's modeled on laws adopted in Florida and 13 other states.

Clarksdale's elementary schools are trying to improve student literacy. Valarie Davis, principal at Myrtle Hall IV Elementary, said the biggest reading challenge is lack of preparation at home, reflecting poverty and low parental education levels.

"The children don't have the background," Davis said. "Some of them have never been read to or read books at home."

Preschool preparation for kindergarten could ease that problem. Mississippi has been the only state in the South and one of only 11 nationwide with no state-funded preschool program. But lawmakers approved a plan for school districts, Head Start centers and private child care operators to jointly provide voluntary preschool for 4-year-olds. Clarksdale is already using federal money to run three 20-student preschool classes, putting it among the one-third of Mississippi districts doing so even without state aid.

Clarksdale could also be an early target for a charter school under a new law easing creation of the alternative public schools. The Knowledge is Power Program, a national group, operates a charter school in nearby Helena-West Helena, Ark. The group has expressed interest in Clarksdale and many Mississippi leaders have said the school is a model. Some Clarksdale residents, including Luckett and his mayoral rival, Democratic state Rep. Chuck Espy, also support charter schools.

Dupree says the public school system is striving to be so attractive that parents will choose public schools even if a charter school opens.

"When there's choice, we want to be the choice," he said.

Text Only
State and Nation


Which foreign crisis is the biggest threat to the security of the United States?

None of the above
     View Results
AP Video
US Ready to Slap New Sanctions on Russia Kerry: Not Worried About Israeli Criticism Boater Rescued From Edge of Kentucky Dam Girl Struck by Plane on Florida Beach Dies Rodents Rampant in Gardens Around Louvre House to Vote on Slimmed-down Bill for Border Looming Demand Could Undercut Flight Safety Raw: 2 Shells Hit Fuel Tank at Gaza Power Plant Raw: Massive Explosions From Airstrikes in Gaza Giant Ketchup Bottle Water Tower Up for Sale Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating
Twitter Updates
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Business Marquee