Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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June 12

The Picayune Item says cell carriers should continue to develop the priority first-responder system:

One of the most important things in a large-scale emergency situation is for emergency personnel to be able to communicate with one another. Without that ability, the various local agencies would not be able to coordinate relief efforts, leading to possible loss of life. After Hurricane Katrina, the state government invested in a radio system, the Mississippi Wireless Information Network, to allow emergency personnel to be able to stay in touch should cell service be lost. However, these radios are large and bulky, and only emergency responders have access to them.

Emergency Management Agency director Danny Manley said during the May 24 EMA preparedness meeting that certain cell carriers have a special first responder plan to allow emergency personnel priority access to cell tower signals. This would mean that in case of a system overload, first responders under the plan would be able to access cell tower frequencies before the average citizen.

While this seems like a good system, Manley mentioned that it is a relatively new technology and that the plan will not work on regular cellphones. Because of this, first responders who want to take advantage of the plan would have to buy a separate, bulkier phone for use in case of an emergency.

Having access to a proper communications system is of utmost priority in the case of a disaster.

Without the ability for emergency agencies to keep in touch with each other through cellphones, first responders and other emergency personnel would have to rely on radios to stay in touch in case of an emergency. Cell companies should continue to develop the priority first responder system to perfect it and make it available on any type of device.

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

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June 7

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on third-graders' improved passage rates for a reading test:

Third-graders throughout Mississippi have shown significant progress on statewide reading tests recently put in place, hopefully a sign that students are mastering this fundamental skill before advancing further along their educational pathways.

The Mississippi Department of Education announced earlier this week that 93.2 percent of third-graders passed the statewide reading test. The Literacy-Based Promotion Act requires third-graders to pass the assessment to be promoted to fourth grade, as reported by the Daily Journal's Dillon Mullan.

The initial pass rate has increased every year since the test was first administered, rising from 85 percent in 2015, to 87 percent in 2016, to 92 percent in 2017. Students have three chances to pass the test.

Since the 2014-15 school year, Mississippi's Literacy-Based Promotion Act has required that a student scoring at the lowest achievement level on the 3rd Grade Reading Assessment be retained in third grade, unless the student meets the good cause exemptions specified in the law, according to information released by MDE. Local school districts determine which of their students who did not pass qualify for one of the good cause exemptions for promotion to fourth grade.

The law was amended in 2016 to require students starting in the 2018-19 school year to score above the lowest two achievement levels in order to be promoted to the fourth grade. This means students need to score at level 3 or higher on the reading portion of MAAP, MDE stated. Based on preliminary data for 2018 for the first administration of the test, 73.8 percent of students across Mississippi scored at level 3 or higher, up from 69.6 percent in 2017.

(...)

While it might take a few more years to see concrete trends in this data, the fact that more Mississippi students are becoming proficient readers is certainly something worth celebrating.

Online: http://www.djournal.com

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June 12

The Greenwood Commonwealth says a U.S. Supreme Court decision could be good news for Mississippi:

A U.S. Supreme Court decision Monday in a case out of Ohio might be good news for Mississippi in trying to reduce the bloat in its voter rolls.

By a 5-4 vote, the court upheld Ohio's law that allows voters' names to be purged if they have not cast a ballot for six years and have not responded to a notice asking them to confirm their residency.

Civil rights leaders say this is an effort to disenfranchise the minorities and poor. Rather, it is an attempt to have more accurate voter records.

Mississippi is notorious for having bloated voter rolls, with many counties having more registered voters than adult residents.

Bloated rolls create judicial inefficiencies, as counties have to send out huge numbers of jury summonses to pool a sufficient number of potential jurors.

Worse, bloated rolls are an invitation to voter fraud. The easiest way to impersonate a voter, especially with absentee ballots, is to have lots of names of people who have died or moved still on the rolls.

Online: http://www.gwcommonwealth.com/