Groups Stress Education Enhancement

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The Mississippi Rural Education Association is taking steps to improve Mississippi's education ranking.

According to the "No Child Left Behind" reform initiative, Mississippi is consistently ranked as a four or a five, the lowest rankings on the scale.

In an effort to improve this ranking the Mississippi Rural Education Association has adopted a new theme, "Doing Something Different."

"One of the goals of the Mississippi Rural Education Association is to provide networking empowerment and help them to find the resources necessary to help them succeed," said Jonas Crenshaw, assistant principal at Magnolia Middle School.

Finding resources seems to be one of the biggest challenges in rural school districts. Ranging from difficulty with technology integration to something as simple as transportation, rural schools face challenges vastly different than those presented to urban schools.

"This organization is dedicated to understanding the differences in rural and urban schools so that we can make those adjustments for our kids," said Dr. Ingrad Smith, MRA executive director.

Mississippi is one of only four states with a majority rural population and currently ranks first in the nation in its need for policy attention. Policy, especially in early education, is something that the Mississippi Education Policy Fellowship Program is trying to address.

"Targeting our lowest income, lowest socio-economic groups, and giving them that chance at the three and four-year-old level to learn how to learn will impact how well they do for their entire lives," said Cdr. Randy Reeves of the Mississippi Education Policy Fellowship.

It's with tactics like this that the Mississippi Rural Education Association is hoping to bring about a change.

"What used to be problems, we're going to have to look at them as unique challenges and then begin to address them, and we can," said Dr. Smith.