One of the things I like most and respect about Mississippi’s Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann is the fact that he makes himself available to people, he does his job well and he maintains his sense of humor.
He was passing through Simpson County and wanted to drop by for a visit last week, but I had a conflict and had to be in Mendenhall for a board meeting of Angel Wings, the domestic abuse shelter. His staff said he could meet me in Mendenhall. That is pretty neat–someone who is important but is willing to work around your schedule. That may be part of the reason he is so successful.
What Delbert wanted to talk about was an educated workforce. This is great because in my work with the Simpson County Development Foundation one of the leading issues facing us in recruiting business to our community is our workforce.
So I asked Secretary Hosemann, “How are you as Secretary of State driving the educational system?”
He said, “That is simple, We are in charge of 16th section properties.” This is one of the main sources of continued revenue for school systems. Under Hosemann’s tenure as Secretary of State those funds have increased from $600 million a year to $1 billion a year.
This works, he said, because he told the counties he would not approve leases of 16th section property if they were not for a reasonable amount. That got the attention of the school boards and everyone involved and in many circumstances got the school systems out of their “good ole boy deals.”
Secretary Hosemann is touting several ideas for improving education and the workforce that comes out of it.
One is the idea of a year round school session. The system we are working under is outdated and relates back to a time of planting and physical labor that has passed.
Hosemann said the program has been adopted in Corinth, Miss., and appears to be working well. The program is formed around nine weeks of school with three weeks off between sessions. This gives a better learning environment for the children because it eliminates the long break from learning over the summer. Hosemann said this will keep staff from getting burned out.
He indicated that some school systems, normally in the lower rated schools, focus entirely too much on testing.
He also advocates a 13 year system that will meet the needs of students who are interested in joining the workforce. The plan is to make technology skills available to students, not just in the 13th year of school but implemented at a lower level to better prepare students to move into the workforce after graduation.
To research these ideas, Hosemann commissioned a study called “Y’all Business Survey” in which he questioned business and industry leaders about what they need and what they find when it comes time to consider plans like expansion, hiring new employees and other pertinent data in the business sector.