Click here for information by school district, including school funding, school accountability, and legislators' contact information.
Some Bad News, Some Good News
Today was the deadline for bills to pass out of committee. Senate and House committees passed bills to help privatizers and killed bills to help public school students and teachers. Among those killed was the pay raise for assistant teachers and the literacy bill that provides important exemptions for third-graders. Read more here.
Voucher Bill Headed to House Floor
The House Education Committee passed SB 2695 this afternoon as a strike-all amendment, replacing the original language of the Senate voucher bill with that of HB 394, the House voucher bill. Ask your representative to vote NO on SB 2695. Read more here.
Legislators Play High-stakes Politics with Children's Futures
The House passed a bill today that, if enacted, will ensure that our children will never receive adequate school resources. See your legislator's vote here. HB 1629 removes 30 percent of state general fund revenue by eliminating the entire state income tax, phased out over 15 years. It would cut $1.7-billion from the state budget, with a loss to K-12 of $663-million annually. Yesterday, the Senate passed its own tax-cut plan to eliminate $382-million from state coffers, mostly through corporate tax breaks. See that vote here. K-12's annual hit from the Senate tax cut would be about $150-million. Read more here.
What Your District Stands to Lose in Funding
How much will your school district be shortchanged if the MAEP is not fully funded? A lot. Click here to see an estimate of what your district could gain if the MAEP is fully funded, and what it could lose if it is not. While state leaders are unwilling to fund schools adequately, they are engaging in an election year game of one-upmanship over who can decimate our state's budget the most through tax cuts our state can ill afford.
Literacy Test Concerns Misrepresented
The concerns of parents, teachers, and advocates regarding the third-grade "reading gate" have been misrepresented in recent media coverage. The concern is not that children who can't read will be retained, it is that children who can read will be retained because, for any number of reasons, they miss the cut score on the one high-stakes test that will determine retention. The Florida law on which Mississippi's law is based does not make a high-stakes test the sole determinate for third-grade retention. Read more here about Florida's investment of state and federal funds in reading, including a $300-million federal Reading First grant and more than $1-billion in state funding allocated to districts from 2005 through the current year for reading instruction.
House Passes K-12 Funding Bill With $201M Shortfall for MAEP
Today, the House of Representatives passed the K-12 funding bill on a unanimous vote, with almost no debate. It provides an increase in MAEP funding over last year of $107-million, but leaves the MAEP $201-million short of full funding. About half of the $107-million increase is intended to cover the second phase of the well-deserved teacher pay raise and what we hope will be a pay raise for teacher assistants. Read more here.
Still Time to Contact Representatives; Ed Funding Debate Tomorrow
The House did not take up the funding bill today, so there is still time to make those calls! We are expecting that debate tomorrow shortly after the House convenes at 10 a.m. Click here to watch it online. Read more here.
Looking for contact information for your legislators? Find it for those who represent your school district here, and use social media to reach out to all elected leaders. Remember to include the hashtag #All4PubEd any time you tweet or post on Facebook.
House to Vote on K-12 Funding Bill that Shorts MAEP by $201M
The House is expected to vote this afternoon on the K-12 funding bill passed by the House Appropriations Committee yesterday. Their plan is to underfund MAEP by $201-million for the 2015-2016 school year, despite having revenue available to fully fund our schools. Read more here.
Third-Grade Reading Gate, Assistant Teacher Pay-Raise Bills Move to Senate
Both the third-grade reading gate bill and the assistant teacher pay-raise bill were moved forward by the House today. Please thank Chairman Moore and Speaker Gunn. The bills now will go to the Senate for consideration. Click here for more information about these and other bills we are tracking.
Tell Leadership to Move Critical Bills Forward
Tomorrow is a critical day for three important education bills that are still pending: the third-grade reading gate, assistant teacher pay-raise, and average daily membership bills. Tell Chairman Moore and Speaker Gunn to table the motion to reconsider on HB 745, HB 582, and HB 471. Read more here about these bills and today's actions on other education bills in the House and Senate.
Amended Bill Would Hold 3rd Graders Harmless for First Year of New State Test
A bill that would hold Mississippi third-graders harmless for the first-year results of a new high-stakes reading test and delay retentions for one year could die without your help. A majority of the House supports the amended version of the bill that allows children who don't meet the (as of yet undetermined) cut score to progress to fourth grade while providing them the intensive remediation they need. Sources tell us that the leadership is likely to kill it. If the bill dies, thousands of third graders who would not otherwise be retained will be held back. Read more here.
HB 394 is About Privatizing Public Education
HB 394 could be voted on in the House any time before the midnight deadline on February 12. This is a voucher bill that purports to provide opportunities for children with special needs when, in fact, it is simply a bill intended to line the pockets of for-profit entities whose goal is to privatize public education. Read more here about vouchers for children with special needs. And read letters to legislators from Starkville and Jackson County parents of children with special needs - these parents oppose vouchers and want more resources for their public schools.
A Chance to Stop the Privatizers
Legislators have gone home for the weekend, and they need to hear from you. Read more here.
What Legislators Didn't Do for Children with Special Needs
Legislators had opportunities over the last few weeks to provide real help for children with special needs, but instead, chose to focus on legislation that provides our most vulnerable children no assurance of special education services at all. Read more here.
It's Getting Ugly at the Capitol
Our kids need your help. Well-funded privatization forces are gaining ground in their efforts to privatize Mississippi's public education system, a move that would hand state tax dollars to unaccountable for-profit, virtual, and private schools. Read more here.
Senate Ed Committee Passes Voucher Bill
This morning, the Senate Education Committee passed a voucher bill that, if enacted, would be a big step toward privatizing public education in Mississippi. It could go to the full Senate as early as tomorrow. Read more here.
HB 449 Aims to Silence Educators
HB 449, authored by House Education chairman John Moore of Rankin County, would make it a criminal offense for teachers to contact their legislators during the work day (pretty much the only time that legislators are at the Capitol) and for citizens to advocate for an issue they support on any school property. Read more here. For a complete analysis of HB 449, click here.
What are Their Plans for Public Education?
So many of you have emailed, called, and texted us to express your devotion to Mississippi kids and your outrage with legislators who last week put our children's education in jeopardy, voting to thwart public will with a legislative alternative to the people's school funding amendment. Many of you report that your legislators are in "justification mode" - quoting from their talking points about the alternative, while swearing to be ardent supporters of public schools and promising great things for this legislative session. We will be watching their votes and reporting the outcome to you. Votes on key bills will tell us if they've made good on their promises. Read more here about privatization bills and possible changes regarding school funding.
Time to Rally for Adequate School Funding!
Tired of politicians running roughshod over public education? It's time to send them a message and stop their plan to kill the people's Better Schools, Better Jobs funding amendment. Join our
#HandsOff42 VIRTUAL RALLY on Wednesday, January 7
without ever leaving home or work. Click here to learn how.