- Associated Press - Saturday, October 31, 2015

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - What major-party candidates for governor and lieutenant governor in Mississippi say about education:

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PHIL BRYANT, Republican running for re-election as governor: “Learning to read in the third grade is absolutely life-changing.” Requiring students to pass a reading test to advance to fourth grade has been his signature initiative. Bryant supports raising the passing score gradually. He supports more pre-kindergarten funding, and wants to focus on high school graduation and better job training. Bryant says he’s proud of the funding level he’s provided. “We really feel good about the direction that we’re moving in education in Mississippi.”

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ROBERT GRAY, Democratic nominee for governor: “He’s not fully funding education. He needs to take care of the job,” Gray says of Bryant. Gray says more technology would help prepare students for careers. “You would think with computers and the technology we have now, our school system would be more advanced.” Gray supports more pre-kindergarten funding but opposes charter schools and vouchers for private schools. “It’s basically ripping off the public school system. If charter schools are so great, they need to implement their ideas into the public school system.”

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TATE REEVES, Republican running for re-election as lieutenant governor: “I want to continue to invest more in public education, primarily invest more in the classroom, not in the administrative offices.” Reeves supports more consolidation of school districts, and would allow charter school students to cross district lines. “I would like to see more school choice opportunities for kids.” On third grade reading tests, “I believe we need to continue to raise the bar each year on what it takes to pass that test.”

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TIM JOHNSON, Democratic nominee lieutenant governor: “They underfunded schools by $200 million this year. I’m glad we’ve got a rainy day fund and I applaud the Legislature for having that. But it’s raining out there, it’s raining out there in our schools.” Johnson says he would work with superintendents and teachers to plan improvements. “I want to get us off the bottom. What does it take to get us to 48th?” Johnson says he believes students are taking too many tests. “We need to get our teachers back to teaching.”

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