By BOBBY HARRISON
Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, said he got the idea for the two-day education conference he will host Friday and Saturday in Jackson while observing the work of the House Education Committee this past session.
“It came about while in the Education Committee watching six or seven bills be passed in five minutes,” said Hughes, who is not on the House Education Committee, but attended nearly every one of its meetings. “I asked why not get input from teachers?
“I thought it would be nice to get their input on what could be done to improve the classroom experience without spending money.”
Hughes suggested a meeting on social media to garner input from teachers and others in the education community and found the interest overwhelming.
His original plan was to host a meeting at the Capitol, but the meeting has grown to a two-day event (Friday and Saturday) that will be hosted at the Jackson Convention Center.
He said he closed enrollment at 1,500 signups.
Hughes, a freshman legislator who has been one of the most vocal critics of some of the Republican legislative leadership’s education policies, said he and his wife are paying for the event with private funds – not campaign funds.
“It cost a lot,” Hughes conceded. “…But there is nothing more important to my wife and me than the quality of public education.”
Hughes said there will be panel discussions, breakout sessions and keynote speakers on Friday and Saturday.
Former Gov. William Winter, who steered the historic Education Reform Act of 1982 to passage, and Ron Clark of Atlanta, who was a former national teacher of the year and now is a consultant and motivational speaker, will be the speakers for the event.
Hughes said the conference is intended to be “a completely open and free zone for ideas, inspiration and appreciation” of public education.
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