January 2013 Update
In This Issue
Executive Director’s Note
Mississippi First is on the verge of accomplishing what Deputy Director Sanford Johnson is calling a “public policy hat-trick,” to borrow a sports phrase used when a soccer player scores three goals in a single game. This year, we are close to seeing significant progress on three of our major policy goals. As you know, the Mississippi legislature is well-positioned to pass a high-quality charter school bill during this legislative session. We’re also happy to see so many districts that adopted the CHART Abstinence-Plus policy have begun teaching the selected curricula.
The most surprising new development during this session has been quite exciting for supporters of preK. As many of you may already know, SB2395 authored by Senator Brice Wiggins has passed the floor of the Senate. Mississippi First was instrumental in helping Senator Wiggins with this bill, which was based on ideas in our 2012 issue brief called Leaving Last in Line. We are ecstatic that so many–including the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House and many early ed advocates–have gotten behind this historic legislation.
Please see our website to learn more about our policy recommendations. For the most recent legislative updates, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
BIG NEWS!! Legislative Support for Collaborative Pre-K!
Mississippi is but a few legislative steps from creating a state-funded pre-Kindergarten program. Senate Bill 2395, the “Early Learning Collaborative Act,” was introduced by Senator Brice Wiggins, and it’s based on the collaborative pre-K model featured in the MSF Pre-K brief. A collaborative program has also been proposed in House Bill 781, a similar bill by Rep. Toby Barker. Both bills have been endorsed by the Governor, Lt. Governor, and the Speaker of the House.
To date, the full Senate has passed SB2395 with an appropriation, and the House is expected to debate HB781 on the floor soon. Once the bills arrive in the opposite houses, they will have to work their way to the floor again before either going to conference or being adopted by the opposite house.
More information about the pre-K bills, including our pre-K publications, can be found on our new Pre-K Resource Page.
Charter School Legislation Moving Forward
At the moment, both the House and the Senate have passed their own bills to allow charter schools in the Magnolia State. At least one of the chambers will now need to pick up and move the opposite chamber’s bill. Although there are a handful of possibilities for how this process could work, it is likely that the chambers will go to conference to hammer out the differences in the bills. Once that takes place, barring unsuspected obstacles, the compromise bill (“conference report”) must pass both chambers and be signed by the governor.
Visit our Charter Schools Resource Page to stay informed throughout the legislative process.
Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens (CHART)
All CHART Districts Ready to Implement
By the end of January, each of the 34 CHART districts reached a major milestone in the implementation process. Each teacher has been trained, parent meetings are taking place, and most districts should be done with instruction by the end of March. Steps will be taken in the coming months to improve the curriculum review process, provide additional training for teachers, and assist some districts in the process of full-implementation (6th-9th grade).
Charter school and pre-K bills will continue to move through the legislature. It is likely that conference committees will be called to work out House and Senate differences on both issues. In-depth information on our policy positions can be found at MississippiFirst.org. You can also keep track of our policy work by liking our Facebook page and by following us on Twitter.