Pender: No kumbaya moment in Miss. education

State House Democratic Leader Bobby Moak fired off a missive last week decrying a “GOP education disaster … the third-grade reading gate calamity created by Republicans.”

“This is the disastrous result of the Republican education plan that chronically underfunds our schools and then asks even more of our children,” Moak said of the Republican-led Literacy Based Promotion Act of 2013 taking effect this year.

Them were fightin’ words for Republican House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson. Frierson said many education leaders and advocates use “we’re underfunded” as a crutch that prevents schools from making improvements.

“I’m tired of it,” Frierson said. “… The expectation — the response — always is ‘We can’t do it unless we have more money’ … We recognize the need for more money. But it’s not just about more money. It’s also about leadership.”

Frierson said some school districts “that had all the reasons in the world” — low per-pupil spending, poverty — to do poorly on the reading tests did well, and vice versa. He said communities should demand better performance from school administrators, like they do for athletics coaches.