Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:

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July 27

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on expanding access to Advanced Placement classes:

There is a growing trend to create opportunities for high school students to begin earning college credits.

Having secondary schools expand offerings like Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and dual enrollment courses has many advantages. Such offerings push high performing students to reach their full potential and engage students longing for greater challenges. They help other students find skills they didn't realize they had and create a culture focused on postsecondary success. And they allow students to start college with credits in hand, allowing them to save on college costs or attempt more ambitious courses of study.

But there is one big problem. Not all schools have the same access to such opportunities.

That creates an educational disadvantage for rural and low-income school districts and the students who attend them.

Whether it is the result of limited resources, small numbers of students or difficulties in recruiting high quality teachers, it is much more difficult for those schools to offer Advanced Placement courses and other specialized programs.

Enter the Global Teaching Project. The initiative has a simple mission — to provide a platform for great teachers from great schools around the world to bring high-level instruction to students everywhere. It uses internet technology to bring instruction from Ivy League professors to high school students across the country and the world.

Last school year, the Global Teaching Project partnered with the Mississippi Public School Consortium for Educational Access to launch a pilot program to teach Advanced Placement subject matter in select rural and low-income Mississippi school districts that did not previously offer the courses.

This summer, students in the program's second year gathered at camps at Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi to prepare for the AP Physics I course they will take in the fall. Last week, 33 high school students from seven Mississippi school districts listened as Yale University physics professor Meg Urry taught over video conference.

When the school year starts, students will continue to take lectures from Urry. In addition, a teacher from their high school will help navigate the curriculum, and tutors who are physics majors at schools like Yale, Stanford and the University of Virginia will be available to help students through concepts, as reported by the Daily Journal's Dillon Mullan.

Last school year, GTP increased the number of public schools in Mississippi that offer AP Physics by 30 percent. In many cases, the GTP program is the only AP class offered at the high school.

More than 60 percent of U.S. students who demonstrate "high potential for success in Advanced Placement science coursework" are not participating in any AP science courses, according to statistics on the GTP website.

Decreasing that number is imperative to the nation's future. And making sure more rural and low-income students have access to the most rigorous college-prep coursework is critical to Mississippi's future.

Online: http://www.djournal.com/

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July 31

The Vicksburg Post on affordable housing:

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week took the first steps toward building affordable housing in Vicksburg.

The board last Wednesday authorized city clerk Walter Osborne to advertise for bids to raze three homes on Franklin Street to make way for three new homes to be built on the soon-to-be vacant lots

The demolition is part of a blight elimination program funded by a $165,000 Mississippi Home Corp. grant to remove and replace blighted homes. The city was awarded the grant in June, and unlike so many grants, the city is not required to put up matching funds.

Under the blight elimination program, the city will remove selected homes with a clear title. The blight partner, a nonprofit corporation, buys the dilapidated property and builds the new home on the site after the old building is removed. The new home is then sold to a new owner.

Vicksburg is the second city in Mississippi to be awarded a blight elimination grant, city housing director Gertrude Young said in June. The $165,000 is expected do 11 properties under the program at $15,000 for each home — enough for the blight partner to buy the property, close on the property, and for the demolition. The partner builds the new home at its own expense.

Construction Ministries of Madison, one of the city's three blight partners will build the new homes on the Franklin Street sites. The other two blight partners are Perfect Touch Contractor of DeKalb and Warren County Habitat for Humanity. Each will build new homes replacing vacant, dilapidated homes under the grant.

The blight elimination program is an innovative way for cities to eliminate vacant, dilapidated homes no longer fit for habitation with new, affordable homes for families looking to be first time homebuyers or moving into the area and looking for a place to live.

And it doesn't take much looking around Vicksburg to know that we have a number of blighted homes. That, combined with the need for affordable housing in this community makes Vicksburg an ideal candidate to a program like the blight removal program, and our city leaders need to be congratulated for taking the steps to get involved in the program and seek grants to create spaces for new homes.

It's a good start at addressing two serious problems in our community.

Online: https://www.vicksburgpost.com/

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Aug. 1

The Greenwood Commonwealth on sports betting in Mississippi:

Today, the first legal bets in Mississippi on sporting events were expected to be placed. It will be interesting to watch how this plays out, but here's what we would expect to see.

There will be a rush at first of people placing bets at casinos, which is the only place Mississippi allows it. The casinos will report higher numbers of patrons and revenue.

But as legalized sports betting spreads across the country, the business in Mississippi will plateau and then start dropping, just like casino revenues did after this state lost its distinction of being one of the few states with legalized gaming.

Soon, the casinos in Mississippi will lobby for the right to receive sports bets remotely, which almost assuredly is going to happen in other states that enter the market later and want to quickly grab a slice of the action.

The internet will be where the bulk of the sports betting goes, with a few large companies dominating the action nationally and possibly globally.

Will Mississippi domicile any of those? Someone needs to set the odds on that.

Online: http://www.cdispatch.com