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school accountability, and legislators' contact information.
Senate Passes Teacher Pay Raise Bill, Ed Funding and Vouchers Still on Calendars
The Senate this week passed its own version of a teacher pay raise plan, differing from the previously passed House bill by providing higher increases up front (beginning July 2014) and eliminating the benchmark requirements. The Senate plan also provides for a performance-based stipend available to teachers beginning in 2016.
The K-12 funding bill is on the Senate calendar and must be voted on by March 18; ask your legislators to amend the bill to add more funding to MAEP. Both special needs voucher bills are awaiting votes; ask legislators to vote NO on SB 2325 and HB 765. Click here for information from a Mississippi special needs advocacy group that has announced its opposition to the voucher bills, citing among its concerns the loss of IDEA protection for special needs children and the lack of oversight of private voucher schools.
Privatizing and "Profitizing" Public Education
Privatizing and "profitizing" public education? That is exactly what the voucher bills being debated in the MS Legislature are intended to do - and they have "disingenuous" and "unintended consequences" written all over them. House Education Committee members were promised voucher amendments that never materialized. The Senate Education Committee made a few changes to the House voucher bill, but it remains very broad, allows private schools receiving vouchers to cherry-pick students, and explicitly states that private voucher schools cannot be regulated or held accountable for the quality of education they provide. Furthermore, neither bill requires private voucher schools to provide any special education services whatsoever. Ask legislators to vote "no" on SB 2325 and HB 765. Click here to read more.
Legislators Pushing Special Needs Vouchers Vote Against
Funding for Accommodations
Legislators who are pushing for private school vouchers for children with special needs - and who blast public schools for providing too few accommodations - are among those who routinely vote against the funding needed to provide accommodations for special needs students. Read more here.
House Fails to Increase MAEP Funding
This afternoon, an attempt was made in the House of Representatives to increase the MAEP appropriation in HB 1476, the K-12 funding bill. That effort failed when 66 House members voted instead to send the bill to the Senate without increasing MAEP funding. Check the vote report here to see how your representative voted. Please thank the 53 representatives who voted to reconsider the bill and allow amendments to increase MAEP. Read more here. The bill now goes to the Senate. Please contact members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, your own senator, and the lieutenant governor and ask them to increase significantly the MAEP funding in HB 1476.
Capitol switchboard: 601-359-3770
Important Ed Funding Vote Coming
Will your representative be the one to deny our kids adequate school funding? Or will your representative's vote be the one to solidify a shot at a decent education? One vote - your representative's vote - could make the difference. The K-12 funding bill (HB1476) is being held on a motion to reconsider, which means the House has a chance to redeem itself for the inexcusable level of underfunding that the bill currently appropriates for the MAEP. We will need the support of representatives on two key votes to win better funding for our schools.
First, we will need representatives to vote to reconsider the bill so that an amendment can be offered. A "no" vote on this motion is a vote against better funding (it denies us a chance to add more funding to the bill). Second, we will need representatives' support on the amendment to increase MAEP funding.
We will report both votes. Please call, email, text, tweet, AND message your representative and ask for support on both of those votes. Ask your friends to do the same. (Find social media contacts here.) This could be the last opportunity the House will have this session to vote on the funding bill.
Another Chance to Amend Education Funding Bill
Legislators will get another shot at increasing the MAEP funding in HB1476 when the bill is taken up for reconsideration. We expect that to happen on Monday, and we hear the amendment could pass. Your help is needed to ensure success. Read more here.
Ed Funding Bill Still Pending
The House did not take up HB 1476 this afternoon, but will be in session again tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. You can watch the live webcast of House proceedings here. If you have not already called your representative about this bill, please do so now. Ask your rep to vote to amend or recommit this bill to increase MAEP funding. Capitol switchboard: 601-359-3770. Also, please call Speaker Gunn at 601-359-3300 and ask him to support amending or recommitting HB 1476.
HB 1476 Grossly Underfunds MAEP
This morning, the House Appropriations Committee passed HB1476, the K-12 funding bill. The bill provides no increase in the MAEP beyond a $25-million allocation for the first half-year of a proposed teacher pay raise. Though state revenue has surpassed 2008 levels, House Bill 1476 funds schools almost $100-million below what they received in 2008. Click here to read more and to see how much your district has been underfunded in the last six years and what you stand to lose next year.
We're Making Progress!
Of the 38 troublesome bills we warned of a few weeks ago, only 3 remain alive - that's real progress! One of the remaining three is not subject to today's deadline and hasn't been considered, and the other two - both voucher bills - have been amended to slow down their progression. Click here to read more.
Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with your legislators about these important bills. We can't expect legislators to read our minds; they need to hear from us!
Floor Deadline Tomorrow, Voucher Bills On Tap for Votes
Tomorrow is the deadline for the House and Senate to vote on bills originating in their own chambers. Voucher bills HB 765, SB 2325, and HB 831 remain on the calendars and could be voted on tomorrow. Please ask your legislators to vote NO on these bills. Read more here. Also today, HB 502, the alternative to the New Start School law, was defeated in the House on a motion to recommit. A similar bill is still alive in the Senate; read more about the legislation to address chronically failing schools here.
House of Representatives Passes Teacher Pay Raise
The House of Representatives passed a teacher pay raise this afternoon on a vote of 86-26. Read about the debate here. See a description of the pay raise bill here.
Voucher Bills Headed for Floor Vote - Ask Legislators to Vote No
Three voucher bills have passed out of committee, two in the House and one in the Senate, and they are headed to the full chambers for votes. These bills divert taxpayer dollars intended for public schools to pay tuition at private schools with no accountability for the quality of education they provide. Read more here.
House Education Committee Passes Teacher Pay Raise Bill
The House Education Committee this afternoon passed a bill to give teachers up to a $4,250 pay raise over four years. Read more here.
Numerous bills have been filed that address school funding changes, open enrollment (crossing district lines), vouchers, charter schools, school standards, and how school boards are selected. Most of these bills have not yet been taken up in committee; the deadline for committees to act on bills that originated in their own chambers is Tuesday, Feb. 4. If any of these bills make it out of committee and onto the calendar for a floor vote, your help will be needed to get them amended or defeated to ensure that our children's education is protected. See the bills here.
Voucher Bills Filed This Session
A number of voucher bills that are designed to divert taxpayer dollars from public schools to private schools have been introduced this legislative session. None of these have been taken up so far, but any of them could be debated in committee in the next few days. The voucher bills are: HB 529, HB 562, HB 592, HB 765, SB 2209, SB 2280, SB 2325, SB 2595, SB 2596, SB 2639, and SB 2749. Click here to learn more about these bills, including who authored them and which are ALEC bills.
Watching for Voucher Legislation
We are monitoring bills as they are introduced, and among the things we are watching for is legislation that creates voucher programs of any kind, including tax credit scholarships, opportunity scholarships, or education savings accounts. Voucher programs divert taxpayer dollars from public schools to private schools; they are unacceptable and unconstitutional. Read more here.
Mississippi Economic Council Endorses Common Core State Standards
The Mississippi Economic Council (MEC), Mississippi's state chamber of commerce, has thrown its support behind the Common Core State Standards. At MEC's Capital Day event, MEC president Blake Wilson reaffirmed the organization's endorsement of the higher college- and career-ready standards. The Parents' Campaign applauds MEC's call for full implementation of the Common Core. Read more here
House Speaker Pushes Teacher Pay Raise
When House Speaker Philip Gunn spoke at the Mississippi Economic Council's Capital Day event, he couldn't have been more clear about his support for an across-the-board teacher pay raise. We at The Parents' Campaign applaud his commitment to our teachers. Read more here
Legislators Arrive for 2014 Session - Let's Fund the MAEP
Legislators arrived in Jackson today to convene the 2014 Legislative Session. Among their agenda items will be funding for the MAEP. Revenue is back to pre-recession levels. It's time to get serious about funding a decent education for our kids. Read more here
2014 Legislature to Convene Tuesday, January 7
The 2014 Legislative Session will convene at noon on Tuesday, January 7. As always, we will keep our members in the know about legislation that affects public schools and how their legislators vote on pertinent education bills. If you would like to receive email updates about your legislators' education votes and have not already signed up, click here to be added to our email list. For additional news updates, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
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