- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:


April 28

The McComb Enterprise-Journal on the teacher shortage:

If financial incentives were all it took to lure teachers to school districts where they are in shortest supply in Mississippi, they would be already doing so.

Mississippi has enacted a series of monetary enticements over the years - from scholarships and loan deferments to moving expenses to down payments on a house - to attract teachers to districts with the highest poverty rates, highest minority populations and worst academic ratings. Despite all this assistance, the shortage of certified instructors doesn’t seem to be improving.

The Greenwood School District is trying to add yet another financial incentive of its own - a $3,000 signing bonus. But it seems unlikely that it will actually do much to address the problem over the long term, because money is not the main cause for it.

The reason that Greenwood and the other 47 “critical need” districts in Mississippi can’t find or keep teachers is mainly because the job environment in them is so difficult and discouraging.

The student body is challenging, since many of the students come from households that are impoverished both economically and academically. Too many of their parents are either apathetic or antagonistic. And teachers either feel unsupported by the administration or lack confidence in it.

There has been a significant drop-off in the numbers of potential instructors coming out of Mississippi’s schools of education, even as the existing teaching force ages. There are also states poaching on Mississippi’s teaching pool because of their own shortages.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of districts in Mississippi that have little teacher turnover and waiting lists of instructors trying to get a job with them. These are also the school districts with lower rates of poverty and family instability, fewer discipline problems and, not coincidentally, higher academic ratings. And their starting salaries cannot be much better, if any, than Greenwood’s nearly $36,000 a year.

The only way to eliminate teacher shortages, wherever they exist, is to fix the environment that created them in the first place.

Online: https://www.enterprise-journal.com/


April 28

The Picayune Item on mosquitoes:

Now that temperatures are rising, going outside means short sleeve shirts and probably a pair of shorts. It also means mosquitoes are becoming more prevalent.

These small nuisances have been hibernating all winter, at times showing their presence when a warm patch of weather came through.

But now that the last cold snap has passed, we will encounter these flying pests regularly.

If you live in the city limits, then municipal employees will be spraying special chemicals to keep their numbers down. But if you live in the rural areas of the county, you’re pretty much on your own to control the population.

There are several things everyone can do to keep mosquito numbers low, even if you live in the city.

First, you’re going to want to eliminate breeding sites.

Mosquitoes breed in standing water, such as puddles, and places where water pools. That can include buckets left out in the rain, old tires around your property or even a tarp on the ground.

By removing these breeding sites now, mosquitoes will have less time to spawn the next generation. This weekend would be a good time to look for anything, no matter how small, that could be used by these insects to lay their eggs. Even flower pots, gutters and bird feeders should be examined.

Now that you’ve eliminated places for them to breed, check the screens on all windows of your home.

Replace any that show damage such as holes and look for those that don’t fit the window correctly. While there’s no way to entirely prevent them from breeding, we can take steps to keep them out of our homes.

Remember that mosquitoes are most active during the evening and morning, so if you must go outside during those hours take precautions by wearing long sleeve shirts and pants and using insect repellant.

If you’re interested in reducing their numbers further, a number of companies offer mosquito traps to lure and kill these insects.

Online: https://www.picayuneitem.com/


April 30

The Sun Herald of Biloxi on Gov. Phil Bryant calling a special session in June:

We appreciate the notice from Gov. Phil Bryant that he will call a special session in June to take care of some unfinished business but we can’t fathom why he won’t tell us what will be on the agenda.

We know the Department of Transportation will be because if it isn’t, there will be no road maintenance the next fiscal year. That would put some rather large potholes in front of a lot of political aspirations so we know that won’t happen.

We have to wonder how we got to this point anyway. Republicans have super-majorities in both Houses. They control the executive branch. And yet, the Legislature couldn’t finish on time.

Several crucial issues were left dangling. We don’t know what will happen with the overhaul of education funding. We haven’t seen a proposal, much less a bill.

We don’t know what will happen with the BP settlement money - money that the governor and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves have assured us will be coming to the Coast.

And, now, we don’t know if that will be brought up during the special session. We asked.

“No individual agenda items, beyond the agency budgets, have been determined at this time,” Bryant’s spokesman Knox Graham wrote in an email. “Those decisions will come as we get closer to June 5.”

The governor should not keep us in suspense. We don’t want to see BP on this special session agenda at the last moment.

The Coast delegation, and the GOP majority, are too far apart. That is not an atmosphere for sound judgment. And the risk that the $100 million the state has received as part of a $750 million settlement for economic damages could be hijacked is too great.

That’s why we would rather Bryant say “yes” or “no” on the question of the BP money in the special session. And say it sooner rather than later.

We see no need to keep that secret until closer to June 5.

Online: https://www.sunherald.com/

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