Mississippi’s newly named state superintendent of education discusses his plans

Published: Nov. 28, 2022 at 8:22 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - It’s a return home for Mississippi’s next state superintendent. We’re learning more about what his plans are for the post. Dr. Robert Taylor is a Laurel native, but he’s spent the last 30 years working in education in North Carolina.

“Anyone who knows me knows that one of my dreams has always been to return to Mississippi as the state superintendent,” said Taylor in a Zoom call with Mississippi reporters.

It was our first opportunity to hear from the newly named state superintendent Dr. Robert Taylor. He’s gearing up to take on the role in January.

“I think the challenges that Mississippi has are the same challenges that districts across the nation are dealing with. Funding, teacher shortages, teacher ed programs, how do we make sure students are properly prepared to go out into the workforce?” described Taylor.

The Mississippi Association of Educators has been gathering input from teachers around the state on what they’d like to see in the new leader.

“They have expressed to us over and over again that they wanted someone, especially with classroom experience that knows how hard it is to work inside of our schools,” said MAE President Erica Jones.

Taylor offers that having moved through the ranks as a classroom teacher to school administrator and at the state level as deputy state superintendent in North Carolina.

He was asked about the schools moving to modified calendars that amount to more of a year-round schedule. That’s something the Lt. Governor has voiced his support for in recent months.

“I think that’s absolutely beneficial,” described Taylor. “We know that districts go to a year-round calendar, and it reduces the amount of time between sessions.”

Back to that teacher survey.

“One of the key things that our educators want to address with our new state superintendent is state tests,” explained Jones. “And many educators have questions around whether we’re gonna continue that cycle of testing.”

“If you asked me, ‘Are we over-testing children?’ Absolutely, we are,” noted Taylor. “The clear question that everyone has is how do we properly assess what it is that schools are doing... it’s about what we believe is the most appropriate way to do that.”

Dr. Taylor will still need to receive confirmation from the state senate before officially taking on this new post.

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