Deal with school takeovers without weakening good law

“To sit back and say we can’t afford it … is just crazy. We can’t continue to do that.”

That was state Rep. Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, the former chairman of the House Education Committee, addressing concerns that a law passed last year mandating the takeover of schools that have earned failing rankings for three consecutive years could be a logistical nightmare for the Mississippi Department of Education.

Clearly problems with the law exist. Brown sees that, as does current House Education Chairman John Moore, R-Pearl. Ditto for Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison, R-Oxford. Tollison admitted that an amendment addressing the concerns was not considered during this year’s session only because of time constraints and that a fix would be among the first bills he passes from his committee.

That is encouraging, but we would warn lawmakers not to be too hasty with their fix. Logistical problems are no reason to weaken a good law. The intent of the “new start” law is to tear down what is broken and build something better. That intent must be preserved when addressing the logistical problems.

Clarion Ledger
9/14/13