EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR’S NOTES:
Quick update of MSF over the past month

We hope you had a great holiday. December was another great month for MSF; we are now a team of 5! We completed and sent out our first annual report that highlighted our 5-year history and reviewed our current initiatives and successes. In this newsletter, we highlight the newly awarded preK collaboratives and updates on the Common Core State Standards. MSF is looking forward to the 2014 Legislative session which started Tuesday. Make sure to continue to follow us to stay up-to-date on education policy in Mississippi.

New Staff at MSF: Mississippi First is excited to announce two new hires! Mississippi First has named Angela Bass as our Deputy Director of Policy and Josh McCawley as our Teen Health Policy Coordinator. Angela will serve as an education policy expert, assisting Mississippi First in enacting its policy agenda. Josh will provide issue education and advocacy for local- and state-level policies related to teen sexual health. Both are great additions to our team and we look forward to their great work.

Annual Report: During the November Board of Directors meeting, we presented our 5-year annual report. The report details institutional history, organizational structure, financial information, and donor acknowledgement. A pdf of the Annual Report can be viewed here or an animated version can be viewed here. For monthly updates, join our mailing list.

WKKF Community Leadership Network Fellowship: W.K. Kellogg Foundation is looking to grow and support emergent and longstanding leaders in the region who are working collectively on behalf of children. For more information about the fellowship, click here to review the program brochure and learn about the application requirements. If you have any questions, please contact Barb Fitch.


Rachel Canter
Executive Director

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Charter Schools
Application released and other news

Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens (CHART Initiative)
MSF hires new Teen Health Policy Coordinator

Pre-Kindergarten
State-funded preK implementation

School Turnaround
MSF launches Choose Excellence Campaign

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CHARTER SCHOOLS

Implementing the new Charter Schools Act of 2013

Letters of Intent Due January 22, 2014:

Remember, the Charter School Application Package is out! The application package was posted on November 23, 2013. Applicants have until March 14, 2014, to respond to the full application; a letter of intent is due on January 22, 2014.

Other Board News:

The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board met again in December. During their meeting, they accepted two grants–one general operating grant from the Mississippi Common Fund and a $25,500 grant for training and support from Mississippi First on behalf of the Mississippi Charter Schools Association.  The Mississippi Charter Schools Association, through Mississippi First, raised these funds in order to support high-quality authorizing by the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board. The grant will enable the Board to join the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA), pay for training from NACSA, and employ external reviewers in its first application process.

In late December, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board also finalized and released the request for proposals from qualified individuals or entities for professional services to assist with its application process for charter school applicants and to assist with various administrative functions for operations of the Board and the application process. The RFPs are due no later than January 13, 2014.

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CHART
Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens

New Teen Health Policy Coordinator

Our biggest update with CHART this past month was the addition of a Teen Health Policy Coordinator to the MSF team. During Josh’s first month, he will be spending most of his time gathering teen birth rate and teen sexually transmitted infection rate data from the Mississippi State Department of Health that will allow us to update the priority status of Mississippi’s 82 counties. In the months ahead, Mississippi First will continue to expand CHART advocacy work by adopting additional districts across the state while also deepening our work in ten of the current CHART districts.

Parent meetings for CHART districts will continue throughout the spring semester. Follow us on Facebook to see when CHART will be at your district.

For more questions about the CHART Initiative, please contact Teen Health Policy Coordinator Josh McCawley.

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PRE-KINDERGARTEN
State-funded preK implementation

Early Learning Collaborative Funding

On December 20, the Mississippi Board of Education awarded competitive Early Learning Collaborative funding to 11 collaboratives for a total of $8,437,825.40 over the next 3 years. The purpose of the Early Learning Collaborative awards is to support and facilitate the implementation of voluntary prekindergarten (preK) programs as specified in the Early Learning Collaborative Act of 2013. The following collaboratives were awarded funding:

  • Clarke County Early Learning

  • Coahoma County Pre-K Collaborative Initiative

  • Corinth-Alcorn Prentiss Early Learning Collaborative

  • DeSoto County Early Learning Collaborative

  • Gilmore Early Learning Initiative Collaborative

  • Lamar County Early Learning Collaborative

  • McComb Community Collaborative for Early Learning Success

  • Petal Early Learning Collaborative

  • Picayune School District

  • Sunflower County Early Learning Collaborative

  • Tallahatchie Early Learning Alliance

Mississippi First believes preK can play a critical role in closing the achievement gap while raising achievement for all learners. Research supporting the positive impact of preK has fueled the proliferation of state-funded preK programs across the country. For more information and for best practices in early education, visit the Mississippi First preK resource page.

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SCHOOL TURNAROUND

Focus on Common Core State Standards

Focus on Common Core State Standards

On December 16, Governor Phil Bryant released an Executive Order detailing Mississippi’s role in defining public educational standards and curriculum. To view the Executive Order in its entirety, click here. Later in the week, MSF responded with an official statement about the Executive Order.

Also, this month, CommonCoreMS launched a “Myth of the Month” series. Articles featured in this series highlight many of the misconceptions about the Common Core State Standards and how they will affect the students of Mississippi. To view the”Myth of the Month-January,” click here.

Interested in receiving updates about Common Core in Mississippi?
Stay connected by subscribing to our CommonCoreMS Newsletter. Our newsletter will keep you up-to-date on all information Common Core.