Today was the deadline for bills originating in the other house to make it out of committee. Two of the bills we have been tracking most closely died in the Senate. The first bill, House Bill 80, would have created a task force to study how Mississippi could implement pre-Kindergarten. The second bill, House Bill 837, would have required school districts to adopt a policy to teach either an “abstinence-only-until-marriage” or “abstinence-plus” sex education.
Where do we go from here?
The task force bill might be dead but our earnest desire to bring quality pre-K to Mississippi isn’t. We plan to take a look at the purposes of the task force and see what papers we might publish around these topics on our own. Last fall, we planned to release a pre-K strategy to guide our work in this area for the next few years. We got a little side-tracked from that goal as other issues heated up and as we waited for the new State Superintendent to be installed. Dr. Burnham happens to be a huge supporter of pre-K, like Dr. Bounds before him, and we hope to get some real traction on this issue at the Department in the next year. We’ll be looking for ways to fund workable models of service delivery that do not sacrifice quality simply to appease special interests. We’re also actively seeking partners who align with our goals and want to help us continue this fight. After the session ends, we’ll go back to the drawing board on a multi-year strategy. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your ideas.
Since the bill is dead, we plan to go directly to districts located in the ten Mississippi counties with the highest teen pregnancy rates and help them adopt comprehensive sex education policies within the confines of current statute. We already have a meeting scheduled with MDE to offer them some resources from our research and ask if they would send a memo to districts to clarify the law. We hope to release a complete advocacy campaign plan before July 1, 2010, so we’ll keep you posted as our plans develop. Please let us know if you have ideas, useful contacts, or what to be involved in our effort by emailing Sanford Johnson at email@example.com.
A final note: The Innovative Schools Bill that I blogged about yesterday passed the House Education Committee 14-11. It now goes to the floor. Stay tuned for another blog post about the bill!