Mississippi's educational system was the topic of discussion Tuesday as state leaders got an overview of how Florida accomplished reform.
With one legislative session behind him, Gov. Phil Bryant is gearing up for the next one. This one, he says, will be about education and he's looking at what Florida did.
"I think we're in a crisis mode," said former Florida governor, Jeb Bush. "I think this should be the highest priority for our country."
Bush was alongside Bryant Tuesday afternoon for a legislative policy forum on education reform. Bryant says Florida is a successful road map in determining what direction Mississippi should take.
"The children that are in Pre-K today will be our workforce in the future," said Bryant. "We've got to have them ready."
Bush says Mississippi is already on track to reform, with recent legislation changing the way schools are graded and an initiative from Gov. Bryant to create a performance-based pay plan for teachers.
"Without it you're not going to get the kind of learning gains that everybody wants here in Mississippi," Bush said.
Florida already has a charter school system in place, which Bush says has proven to be the fastest and most successful growing option for parents.
Bush says once low-performing students are now performing at state levels and beyond.
"So I know this is politically controversial, but I can tell you that we've gone through this and many other states are embracing this idea of school choice and the world gets better," said Bush. "It doesn't get worse."
After contention among Mississippi lawmakers, charter legislation died at the Capitol during the past session but will be back for round two in 2013.
Even though not all lawmakers are on board with the idea, Bryant says with dual enrollment programs and a framework in the shape of Florida a new foundation for change is in place.
"I feel much better about where we're at going into next year than I have in quite a while," Bryant said.