2018 Educational Equity Legislative Agenda

EDUCATION PROFESSIONAL ADVANCEMENT

Beginning immediately, school boards across the state have new directives for the hiring of superintendents. According to a 2017 amendment, school superintendents must only come from districts with an “A” or “B” rating or a school that has made an improvement in rating during their tenure. This amendment inherently discriminates against majority black and rural low-resourced districts, disenfranchising teachers and administrators who vehemently hold up public education in the state. By placing a scarlet letter on struggling districts and stunting growth for career educators, this amendment disproportionately affects African Americans and women. The ACLU of MS is advocating for the passage of HB 753, which will rectify this effect by adding emphasis to professional experience as opposed to subjective, arbitrary criteria.


Here are the Educational Equity bills we're tracking this legislative session:

Support

HB 22 - Mississippi English Language Learners Scholarship Program 

Description: Scholarship for Hispanic and Latino Students pursuing a Bachelors or Master’s degree in Education for the purpose of recruiting and education certain qualified persons to teach in an area of critical need. 

Our Position: This bill supports fostering diverse educators in order to meet the needs of English Language Learners throughout the state. Increased diversity in educators creates equitable environments where all students can learn. 

HB 104 - Youth and Community Safety Act

Description: Mandate report to MDE of unlawful activity on school property and require MDE to provide evidence based training to improve school climate. 

Our Position: This bill would provide support to school districts who have an increased number of suspensions and expulsions. It states that MDE would provide evidence-based training to teachers and staff to help districts create a better school climate and lessen the likelihood of school-to-prison pipeline practices and policies. 

HB 125 - Voter Education a mandatory part of U.S. Government class

Description: Require voter education as a component of the U.S. government course

Our Position: We support this bill because it supports civic engagement for high school students who are nearing voting age. Given the low voter registration rates of Mississippians ages 18-29, voter education would help to increase that number as well as voter turnout.

HB 208 - Mississippi Universal PreKindergarten Program Act of 2018 

Description: Fully-funded Pre-K

Our Position: This bill would establish a free universal Pre-Kindergarten program for every child in the state of Mississippi. Early childhood education is a key indicator of student success and creates equitable opportunities for Mississippi children.

HB 209 - MAEP

Description: Increase adjustment to base student cost for at-risk students

Our Position: Provides increased education funding to school districts across the state and creates equitable opportunities for more Mississippi students. 

HB 209 - School social workers and pyschologists

Description: provide school districts with funding to hire social workers and psychologists

Our Position: This bill would require school districts to hire social workers and psychologists in addition to providing funding for those positions. We support the hiring of additional student support staff that help to contribute to an equitable school environment.

HB 409 - Public School Donation Tax

Description: Provide a deduction for donations made to public schools 

Our Position: This bill would give tax credits to individuals who have given money to public schools. We support this measure because these tax credits will help to provide additional funding to public schools. 

HB 491 - Mississippi School Safety Act

Description: Prevent certain student restraint and seclusion procedures in Schools 

Our Position: The use of restraint and seclusion methods puts children at risk and does not keep them safe in public schools. This bill would limit the use of restraint and seclusion and require teacher training. We support this bill because all children should be safe in school environments.

HB 575 - School discipline plans

Description: Require districts to provide alternative approach to expulsion, suspension, and isolation 

Our Position: This bill would require school districts to submit reports each year to the Department of Education by describing how the district utilized practices other than suspension, as it pertained to student discipline. We support this bill because school districts should be held accountable and encouraged to utilize alternative methods of discipline other than removing the student from the classroom. 

HB 672 - Exceptional children

Description: Require local school district to develop the proper procedure for the administration of discipline action to exceptional-education students

Our Position: This bill would require school districts to adopt specialized discipline plans for exceptional education students in order to ensure that proper IDEA guidelines are being followed for students who need additional behavior and academic supports. 

HB 753 - Revise qualifications for superintendents

Description: Revise Qualifications for the Office of School Superintendent 

Our Position: This amendment removes language that unintentionally creates racial and gender discrimination towards persons seeking employment as superintendent. Education Professional should be able to advance in their careers based on merits, this amendment creates high standards for superintendent qualifications while also creating equitable opportunities for all educators. 

HB 822 - Conflict resolution

Description: Require school districts to report to SDE on positive behavior intervention practices. 

Our Position: This bill encourages schools to use positive behavior supports to improve student behavior and create positive school environment. The use of positive behavior supports the disruption of school to prison discipline policies that push students out of school. 

HB 823 - School Districts' Alternatives to Suspension

Description: Require to report use of alternatives to suspension included in district’s discipline plan to SDE

Our Position: This bill encourages the use of alternatives to suspension thereby dismantling the school to prison pipeline. 

HB 993 - Incentives for teachers

Description: Provide incentives for working in certain areas with critical teacher shortages

Our Position: Supporting certified teachers in critical needs areas is essential to creating equitable educational opportunities for all students. 

HB 1104 - Suspension and Expulsions

Description: Require clear and convincing evidence as standard of proof for those more than 10 days.

Our Position: This bill would require school officials to show compelling evidence to justify the removal of a student from the classroom setting. This bill prevents school districts from excessively and unfairly suspending students for extended amounts of time. 

HB 1370 - MS Initiative for Rural Turnaround Leadership Pilot Program

Description: Create in State Department of Education 

Our Position: This bill would provide additional training and mentorship to rural area educators to improve school leadership. This bill helps creates equitable learning environments for rural schools and helps to build stronger leadership. 

SB 2123 - Alternative School Placement

Description: Provide clear standards and notice to parents or legal guardians 

Our Position: This bill asserts parent's rights to be notified of their child's placement in an alternative setting. 


Oppose

HB 70 - School Resource Officers

Description: Clarify SROs ability to make arrests on school property 

Our Position: This bill would give additional arresting authority to school resources officers. SRO duties should only include those that focus on total school safety and should not promote the criminalization of student behavior. 

HB 73 - School Administrators

Description: Require to report acts of violence resulting in injury to local law enforcement 

Our Position: The bill mandates the arrests of students by local law enforcement officers for offenses deemed violent in nature. It perpetuates the school to prison pipeline by criminalizing student behavior and authorizing arrest power to local law enforcement officials on school property. This does not keep Mississippi children safe.     

HB 105 - Pledge of Allegiance Fine

Description: Fines schools that do not recite the pledge during the 1st hour of class 

Our Position: This bill will unfairly fine schools who do not recite the pledge of allegiance during the first hour of the school day. We do not support this bill because due to the lack of school funds in a majority of Mississippi school districts, fining districts for offenses unrelated to student success and performance is unnecessary. In addition, silent forms of protest is protected expression. Punishing schools or students for choosing not to recite the pledge is unconstitutional. 

HB 135 - Concelaed fire arms on school premises

Description: Authorize local school board to adopt a policy permitting certain school employees to carry concealed weapons 

Our Position: This bill would authorized the legal possession of firearms on school campuses for school personnel and school resource officers. We do not support this bill because school safety is the role of school resource officers and allowing other personnel to carry firearms on school property creates an unsafe environment for students. 

HB 294 - Ad Valorem Tax for school district transfers

Description: Allow local contribution to follow students who transfer from one district to another 

Our Position: This bill would require that funding for individual students follow that student if he or she transfers to another school. It offers no remedy for school districts who do not have the funds to pay, refunds for students who return to previously enrolled districts, or provide support for struggling districts who might lose an overwhelming majority of students. We oppose this bill because it creates systemic barriers to educational opportunities for all.

HB 714 - School Choice

Description: Establish statewide open enrollment for public school students 

Our Position: This bill allows school boards to choose which students can transfer into their district with no guidelines for districts on the criteria that must be used to determine whether a student is accepted. Without such guidelines, school boards can reject students for no just cause and in a discriminatory manner. 

HB 1405 - Charter Schools

Description: Require school districts to pay local funds due on quarterly, rather than annual basis. 

Our Position: This systemic issue creates a funding disparity that impedes on equitable funding practices. It mandates that public school districts pay charter schools based on per pupil enrollment on a quarterly basis. We oppose this bill because it does not include a provision for returning funds for students who transfer back into the public school system. This bill forces public school to pay charter school for students who no longer attend. 


Neutral

HB 455 - MS Save Our Children Act

Description: Require failing school Districts to implement certain programs in order to improve student performance


Keeping An Eye On

HB 68 - Community Service as an Alternative to suspension and expulsion 

Description: Public school students authorize use of community service as a disciplinary alternative to suspension or expulsion

HB 211 - Schools in district transformation

Description: Prevent mandatory consolidation if progressing toward termination status 

HB 388 - Placement for at-risk children pilot program

Description: Increase the age of the eligibility from 14 to 18

HB 450 - Dream Makers Program

Description: Creates a statewide afterschool program for junior high students 

HB 932 - Public School students community service

Description: Authorize use of community service as disciplinary alternative to suspension and expulsion. 

HB 1063 - Alternative school programs

Description: Impose fine against teachers and other district employees who falsify evidence in support of referral to

HB 1119 - Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act

Description: Authorize unexpended funds to be retained

HB 1283 - Charter School Payments

 Description: Prohibit SDE from reducing and redirecting local school district’s MAEP funds for purpose of. 

 

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