By COLLEEN MCCARTHY
The Mississippi Department of Education will hold a statewide education public forum that will explore how the United States compares to other countries that are leading the world in education.
“This is open to the public and we want community leaders, educators, teachers, principals and also people who are interested in learning about some of the steps we are taking at the Mississippi Department of Education,” Wendy Polk, director of communications for MDE said.
The forum will feature Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy, who will focus on how the education policies and practices in the U.S. would be different if they were to be modeled after those of countries whose students are outperforming our own. One of the biggest differences between the U.S. and these other countries, he said, is the teaching standards — successful countries hold teachers to a much higher standard, are paid more and are clearer about what is expected of each subject and grade level. As a result, the students are getting higher qualified educators, and thus a higher quality education.
“People are going to have lots of ideas about this. I think it’s really important that there is a chance for a give and take,” Tucker said. “I’ll give them the information and let them develop their own opinions.”
The topic is one Tucker studied extensively and a field in which he is considered an expert. He has worked on the standards-driven education reform movement for several years. He is the creator of New Standards, a consortium spanning 23 states which is designed to develop internationally benchmarked student performance standards and matching student examinations. He is also the author of “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: An American Agenda for Education Reform,” and “Tough Choices or Tough Times.”
“This will be a good opportunity to start the conversation about how we can improve education in Mississippi and across the nation,” Polk said. “The topic will be of great value to people from all over Mississippi. We want Mississippi students to be able to compete in a global economy and compete with any other student from any other state in the nation.”
The forum will be free and open to the public. It will be held Wednesday, Sept. 14 from 2-4 p.m. at the Clyde Muse Center at Hinds Community College’s Rankin campus. Those interested in participating can register at www.mde.k12.ms.us  by clicking on the “Go Sign Me Up” tab.