What can Mississippi and the nation do to raise the level of education to compete internationally?
Wednesday, educators, parents, and others heard from an expert who has studied the strategies of the world's top performing education systems.
The session was held at the Hinds Community College's Rankin Campus.
Dr. Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy, said America must return to the number one status it maintained decades ago.
"Mississippi doesn't have a choice. It either competes internationally or it sees its income steadily decline," said Tucker.
During the Education Reform Forum the education consultant and author told the crowd of more than 450 educators and others that his more than 20 year study discovered the strategies countries like Japan, Canada and Australia used to overtake the U. S. education system.
He said they did it by designing a system to get all students to high standards and hiring quality teachers, paid as professionals.
"We can't keep patching this thing. We have to design an absolutely topnotch system. It's what all the top performing countries have done. We actually put more money behind our richest students and less behind those who have less family wealth," said Tucker.
The forum was hosted by the State Department of Education.
"You're dealing with low student performance. You're dealing with an inadequate number of quality teachers, administrators. The end work is focused on the State Board of Education taking a look at those national benchmarks and seeing what can be incorporated in the state," said Mississippi Superintendent of Education Dr. Tom Burnham.
House of Representatives Education Chairman Cecil Brown read Tucker's study Standing on the Shoulder of Giants and said more efficient spending could help.
"We've got to plan over a long period of time to build up teacher pay to attract people and he already said we're spending more than any of these major countries and we're getting less for the money we're spending. So we've got to sit down and analyze that and say why is that true?" said Brown.
The Education Reform Forum was held one day after the State Commission on Accreditation recommended ratings for each school district.