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TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – A former governor who is known for his efforts to foster racial reconciliation and improve public education makes a stop in our area.

Governor William Winter was keynote speaker for a lunchtime event at the Lee County Library as part of the annual “Tupelo Reads” initiative.

Wherever former Governor William Winter goes, he attracts large crowds. His appearance at the Lee County Library packed the facility. But before he talked about his former neighbor, the late author Willie Morris, Winter sat down with us to talk about one of his well known passions, public education.

“Public education in Mississippi now is better than it has ever been, but that does not mean it can’t be a lot better and it must be a lot better,” the former Gov. said.

Winter is ninety years old. He served as governor from 1980 to 1984 and is known for the passage of the Mississippi Education Reform Act, which established public kindergartens in Mississippi.

He believes many people are still being left out when it comes to getting a quality public education.

“We are still not producing as many well educated people as we should, we have too many dropouts, and we do not have the, still do not have in my opinion, the public commitment to funding of education we must have. Education is expensive, it’s not cheap,” he said.

The former governor believes it’s vital for the public education system to produce students who will make the best and most competitive workforce.

“We have some great schools in this state, we have some very poor schools in this state. We want to create a society in Mississippi where everybody, every child , wherever that child lives, has an opportunity to get an education that will serve him and her in a way to make life not only better for them and their families, but life better for the communities in which they live and that’s what education is really all about,” Gov. Winter said.

As for the new Common Core standards, Winter believes it is an important addition to the state educational system. And despite his age, the former governor says he will remain active in civic and charitable causes for as long as he’s able.

“I’ve been lucky, real lucky with my heritage and fact that I have been physically able to continue , even though I’m 90 years old,” Winter said.

The former governor has a new biography titled “William F Winter and the New Mississippi” by Charles Bolton.

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