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New program could help remedy state`s teacher shortage

Editorial

Mississippi`s critical dearth of public school teachers has been well documented. Although this issue has been discussed ad infinitum, little progress has been made on remedying the situation.

In rural areas, where the instructor shortage is most acute, the unavailability of affordable housing for teachers has been frequently cited as a fundamental factor in a school district`s ability to attract qualified personnel.

A new program launched last week has the potential to rectify this dilemma.

Orchestrated by the Mississippi Home Corporation (MHC), the Mississippi State Department of Education and Fannie Mae, the employer-assisted housing plan will help eligible teachers obtain mortgages and provide down payment and closing cost assistance if they agree to teach in a needy district. The program will utilize funds from the Department of Education and be managed by the MHC. Approved Fannie Mae sellers and services will provide the mortgages.

Although this program will not alleviate Mississippi`s teacher shortage crisis, it is a step in the right direction. Clearly, our public schools are in trouble, and to save them, innovative programs – like this housing outreach effort – are needed.

Good schools and economic development go hand in hand. Mississippi business has a responsibility to support quality public education.

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