Mabus Offers Reform Package Tied to New Lottery

Article Tools
  • PrintPrinter-Friendly
  • EmailEmail Article
  • ReprintReprints
  • CommentsComments

Gov. Ray Mabus of Mississippi last week unveiled a sweeping, $500-million education-reform package to be funded in part by creation of a state lottery.

The package includes many of the most popular ideas in education reform, including merit schools, suspension of drivers' licenses for dropouts, and early-childhood intervention.

But the three-year plan drew immediate fire from some state lawmakers, who warned that the legislature was unlikely to accept the lottery idea.

Mr. Mabus estimated that the lottery would raise $180 million--a little more than a third of his requested new spending. The remaining $319.7 million would come from projected revenue growth in the state's general operating fund, without an increase in tax rates.

Mississippi's current budget for elementary and secondary education is $864.4 million.

Mr. Mabus did not immediately call a special session of the legislature to consider the proposals. But he has not ruled out the possibility of a session before the end of the year, according to a spokesman.

"These education improvements are ambitious, but they can be achieved and we can do it without a tax increase through a lottery," Mr. Mabus said in releasing the plan. "This money must be dedicated to education."

A lottery could be implemented as early as July 1990, Mr. Mabus said, if the required constitutional amendment is approved by voters in the spring.

But C. Jack Gordon, chairman of the Senate education committee, said the lottery proposal was unlikely to be placed on the ballot.

"This is an 'Alice in Wonderland' approach to financing these programs," Mr. Gordon said. "A lottery proposal might pass the House, and it might even pass the people, but it won't ever get to the people because it will never pass the Senate."

The House has passed a lottery amendment three times, but each time it has died in the Senate.

Peggy B. Peterson, president of the Mississippi Association of Educators, urged that the lottery proposal be considered.

"I think the people of Mississippi should be given an opportunity to vote on" a lottery amendment, Ms. Peterson said. "I don't think the legislature should stop the process."

The package includes some bread-and-butter proposals that drew the endorsement of the mae, a Nation8al Education Association affiliate.

It slates $26 million in the program's second year and $58 million in the third for teacher raises, in an effort to bring state pay levels up to regional and national averages.

It proposes $36 million over the next three years for a statewide insurance pool to provide health coverage for teachers. Currently, teachers receive only $250 a year in health benefits, according to Ms. Peterson.

The Mabus plan also includes $67.2 million over three years to equalize funding among school districts.

Mr. Mabus said that schools should provide one hour of technolel10logy-based instruction a day for every student. To reach that goal, the plan seeks $50 million over three years to buy or lease computers, software, and video-learning tools.

The package also includes a two-pronged approach to a merit-schools plan. The first part--dubbed the "Better" schools program--would measure individual schools on a performance index that includes test scores, dropout rates, student and teacher attendance, percentage of students in the college-bound curriculum, and parental involvement.

Schools that showed improvement would receive incentive payments, and those that continued to improve over several years would gain relief from many state regulations.

In addition, the "Lighthouse" schools program would designate high-performance schools as "incubators" for pilot projects.

The total amount slated for both programs over three years is about $23 million. A "Corporation for Educational Innovation," to be led by representatives of the private sector, is to help design the two programs.

More than $17 million is designated for early-childhood programs. The plan calls for requiring school districts, child-care centers, and Head Start programs to screen every 3- and 4-year-old for school readiness.

The proposal also includes an "impairment and conservatorship" program similar to district-takeover laws in other states. If a district were not meeting minimum academic standards, it would be judged "impaired" and be required to submit to the state detailed plans to correct deficiencies. Such districts would also receive state assistance.

If such a district failed to upgrade its performance, the state could appoint a temporary "conservator," who would have the power of a local superintendent and school board until corrective action was taken.

Other proposals include:

Creating a debt-service fund for capital improvements, particularly installation of air conditioning;

Establishing school-based health clinics;

Appointing a special commission to design a program to encourage 8th graders to sign a contract to stay in school and maintain a C average in exchange for financial help in postsecondary education; and

Withholding drivers' licenses from school dropouts under age 18.

The Mabus plan also includes a variety of dropout-prevention initiatives; family- and adult-literacy programs; funds for academic coaches, teams, and competitions; and several higher-education initiatives, such as a teacher corps and partnerships with K-12 schools.

Vol. 09, Issue 09

Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.

Back to Top Back to Top

Most Popular Stories





Sponsor Insights

Free Ebook: How to Implement a Coding Program in Schools

Successful Intervention Builds Student Success

Effective Ways to Support Students with Dyslexia

Stop cobbling together your EdTech

Integrate Science and ELA with Informational Text

Can self-efficacy impact growth for ELLs?

Disruptive Tech Integration for Meaningful Learning

Building Community for Social Good

5 Resources on the Power of Interoperability from Unified Edtech

New campaign for UN World Teachers Day

5 Game-Changers in Today’s Digital Learning Platforms

Hiding in Plain Sight - 7 Common Signs of Dyslexia in the Classroom

The research: Reading Benchmark Assessments

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

All Students Are Language Learners: The Imagine Learning Language Advantage™

Shifting Mindsets: A Guide for Training Paraeducators to Think Differently About Challenging Behavior

How to Support All Students with Equitable Pathways

2019 K-12 Digital Content Report

3-D Learning & Assessment for K–5 Science

Climate Change, LGBTQ Issues, Politics & Race: Instructional Materials for Teaching Complex Topics

Closing the Science Achievement Gap

Evidence-based Coaching: Key Driver(s) of Scalable Improvement District-Wide

Advancing Literacy with Large Print

Research Sheds New Light on the Reading Brain

Tips for Supporting English Learners Through Personalized Approaches

Response to Intervention Centered on Student Learning

The Nonnegotiable Attributes of Effective Feedback

SEE MORE Insights >