New state superintendent of education questioned by Senate committee, no confirmation vote taken yet

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 8:07 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The man selected to be over Mississippi’s public education system was questioned for more than an hour by a Senate education subcommittee Wednesday. They’ll get the final say on confirming him.

”We will not be voting today,” noted Sen. Chris Johnson in his opening remarks.

A Senate vote is still needed to confirm Dr. Robert Taylor in his role as State Superintendent. The hearing gave Senators the chance to ask questions... some to the chair of the board of education on the hiring process.

“What we’re getting from PEER is that there was no set cut off,” said Sen. Angela Hill in her questioning. “There was no set way to score it was basically not mathematical scoring system.”

“We appointed a subcommittee who developed a rubric to be able to score the proposals that we had,” noted board chair Rosemary Aultman in response.

Other questions were directed to Taylor about his background, including his time in North Carolina, and the message that sends amid brain drain talks.

“You spent 29 years away,” said Sen. John Polk. “And now you’re coming back to become the highest paid superintendent education in America....How do I explain that to those men and women?”

“Why are you coming back to Mississippi?” noted Dr. Robert Taylor. “If you want to know the answer to that question, talk to the state superintendent of North Carolina, talk to the executive director talk to those people that I’ve worked with. Because probably for the last 10 years, I’ve talked about my desire to return to Mississippi and do exactly what I’m doing right now.”

Taylor says his first priority was visiting all of the low performing districts in the state and he has done that since taking on the role in January.

But, he agreed with members that there’s more work to be done.

“All the small things that we can do but to solve the what I call the systemic problem of teacher shortage is probably a six to eight year process because it is about getting more students into the schools of education and graduating,” added Taylor.

Taylor also spoke at length about his desire to see more emphasis placed on career technical opportunities for students and his desire to establish relationships with the leaders at the local level.

A date has not been set for a confirmation vote.

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