Specialty schools aren’t the priority

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Dear Editor,

Public schools should be fully funded before any other schoolsare even considered. Mississippi education must prepare the vastmajority of students with a solid background for life and the jobmarket. All Mississippi students should be given the opportunity ofa quality education.

After the majority of schools are fully funded, then the otherspecial schools can be considered.

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The Legislature has considered consolidating some schools. Thiswould cut down on administration costs. Is the Legislature alsolooking at consolidating the Mississippi School for Math andScience and Mississippi School of the Arts?

The best and brightest teachers are not at the MississippiSchool for Math and Science or the Mississippi School of the Arts.The best and brightest teachers are in the public schools.

In the public schools teachers have 27 to 30 students per class.They have to teach all students, not just gifted students. Theyhave to encourage students to reach for the sky regardless of theirfamily background, learning blocks and insecurities or fears. Theseteachers do their job extremely well even though they don’t know ifthey will be compensated for their extra efforts or if they willeven have jobs next year.

Most Mississippians drive Chevys or Fords because that is whatthey can afford. A small number drive Hummers because that is whatthey want to drive. If you want a Hummer, by all means buy one, butdo not expect the taxpayers to pay for your Hummer.

There are approximately 500,000 students in the public schoolsystem. These students receive approximately $4,365 per student peryear.

The Mississippi School of the Arts topped 100 students thisyear. These students receive approximately $30,000 per student. Ifyou look at two years, that is $8,730 at the public school for ahigh school diploma, and $60,000 at the Mississippi School of theArts for a high school diploma.

Mississippi should adequately educate and fully fund the vastmajority of schools. Only then should consideration be given to ahandful of gifted students at special schools.

Mississippi will not be pulled from the bottom educationally bya handful of gifted students. We must channel our resources towardK-12 in order to grow and succeed.

Kathy Martin,