Mission for Education

State Superintendent, Dr. Henry Johnson, is on a mission to improve Mississippi's public education system.

As part of this effort, he's in the process of visiting all 152 school districts in the state. Wednesday's stop was the Newton City Schools.

"I have to learn as much as I can about what is happening in Mississippi," said Dr. Johnson. "What are the issues as teachers see them? What are the issues as principals, superintendents, parents and business people see them?"

So far, Dr. Johnson says he's learned that, although districts may vary geographically, their concerns are virtually the same.

"Nearly everybody wants to know more about how the Mississippi accountability model will mesh with the national, 'No Child Left Behind,' accountability model," Johnson said.

Another concern: funding. As the economy continues to lag, districts statewide are bracing for the worst, while hoping for the best.

However despite budget cuts for many, Dr. Johnson says overall, public education in Mississippi is thriving.

"For the first time in the history of the state on a nationally known reference test, Mississippi students scored at or above the national average on all but one indicator," said Johnson. "Also, the Princeton Review has cited Mississippi as having one of the very best accountability programs in the whole country. They rated Mississippi sixth out of all of the states."

Commenting on Johnson's drive to continue to thrive, Newton Superintendent Mina Bryan says today's visit has an even greater meaning.

"It means beginning a partnership," said Bryan. "It means showing to my student body, administrators and staff members that this man truly is a leader and he's going to back up what he says."