JACKSON — Protesters rallied at the State Capitol on Tuesday, the opening day of the 2014 session of the Mississippi Legislative session, against implementation of the Common Core curriculum in the state's school systems.

However, State Rep. Wanda Jennings, R-Southaven, a member of the House Education Committee, said districts still have a say-so in how they implement Common Core, which is aimed at making sure students achieve higher educational standards.

"It's all about the increased standards," Jennings said from the State Capitol. "We need to get the standards higher. Every district can decide for themselves how they want to implement this core curriculum. DeSoto County did this two years ago."

Jennings said a committee comprised of educators, classroom teachers and administrators convened to decide how to best implement the new standards.

"I am sure that nobody considers it a perfect program," Jennings said.

Jennings also said there is a good chance that teachers will receive pay raises this year.

"Historically, you can get a consensus during an election cycle," Jennings said. "I am hopeful we can get a teacher pay raise within the next two years."

The average pay for teachers in Mississippi is the second lowest in the country at $41,646.

"These are professionals who have studied long and hard to become the professionals that they are and they deserve to be compensated," Jennings said.

As for other matters affecting DeSoto County, Jennings said Gov. Phil Bryant has pledged to take on the issue of helping to put more state troopers on state roads and highways by providing more instruction and classes at the state level.

"Their numbers (State Highway Patrol) are too low," Jennings said.

DeSoto County Supervisors recently expressed a wish to have more state troopers patrolling state highways in DeSoto County, despite the trooper shortage.

Robert Lee Long: rlong@desototimestribune.com or at 662-429-6397, Ext. 252

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