‘Thank God for Mississippi’: S.C. lawmakers invite Miss. education chief to talk about early education reform

‘Thank God for Mississippi’: S.C. lawmakers invite Miss. education chief to talk about early educati

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - We've all heard the phrase, “Thank God for Mississippi.”

On Thursday, it took on a new meaning for some members of the South Carolina Statehouse. South Carolina Speaker of the House Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) invited Dr. Carey Wright, the State Superintendent of Education from Mississippi to speak with lawmakers.

She gave an hour-long presentation to the House Education and Public Works Committee about education reform in her state.

"This is hard work. This is not a silver bullet,” she said. “There is no silver bullet to improving education. If there is a silver bullet somebody would have found it and used it."

According to the National Assessment of Education Progress, fourth- and eighth-graders in Mississippi made improvements in 2019. From 2017 to 2019, fourth-grade students made the largest score gains in reading and mathematics in the country. Speaker Lucas said Mississippi has passed South Carolina when it comes to education.

Dr. Wright said they've also really focused on improving early literacy.

"It has really given us the opportunity to get into a lot of early childhood programs and improve instruction,” Dr. Wright added. “Our data shows our early learning collaboratives are outperforming other kids coming into kindergarten."

Speaker Lucas said when he was drafting the Education Reform Bill, he looked to Mississippi. "Our goal is to be as good as we can be,” he said. “Whatever barometer we choose to use shouldn't be another state. We should try to emulate states like Mississippi who are doing better but I want to pass them."

The Senate continued its work on the Education Reform Bill Thursday. Speaker Lucas said, if senators pass the bill, they will amend the bill when it gets sent back to the House.

On Thursday, House members voted unanimously to move forward with a piece of legislation that would create a Teacher Bill of Rights.

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