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Education reform package passes senate

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

By just five votes, a wide-ranging bill on education passed the state senate. It's a bill which Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves calls a milestone.

"This bill, if it become law, has a chance to be the largest economic development tool in our state and the largest education reform package in the last 30 years," said Reeves.

It was done by senators making big changes to a house bill, jamming it full of education reform initiatives, most of which are part of Governor Phil Bryant's education agenda. The bill now offers a compromise on charter schools, measures to increase teacher standards, a proposal to hold third graders back if they can't read at grade level and a requirement for schools with a high dropout rate to submit prevention plans. Reeves says every element is an important needed step in reform.

"Each piece adds value and taken in the whole is greater than the sum of the individual parts," said Reeves.

Each one of those parts make up a much bigger picture which Bryant has been pushing for since he first took office.

"This year must be the year for transformational change in education," said Bryant.

As leader of the senate, Reeves says should the bill die, smaller bills and maneuvers focused on each individual element are still alive and making their way through the capitol.

"Mississippians are tired of excuses. They want education reform in our state because the vast majority of Mississippians want what's best for our kids," said Reeves.

The fate of this bill now lies with the house of representatives. Reeves hopes the chamber will agree to the changes made which would then send the bill to the governor. The governor is expected to sign it should he get it.

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