Conference Report Updates on Vouchers, MAEP Funding and Teacher Pay Raise

Here’s the latest news from the capitol as of 7:00 p.m. on Saturday…

Voucher Bill
The voucher bill conference report has been filed, and it’s pretty much the same as the Senate version – bad. It does nothing to serve the interests of children with special needs. It’s still just a bill to privatize and “profitize” public education – will your legislators vote for or against that privatization?

Some of the new language might appear on the surface to address primary concerns but in reality does not. For example, a concern has been that the private voucher schools aren’t required to provide accommodations or meet the requirements of the IEP. The conference report doesn’t correct that. Instead, it has language saying that the voucher school must “provide details of the school’s programs…and capacities to serve children with special needs” (Line 389). Note that the conference report doesn’t say that the schools must have capacity to serve these children or that they must provide any accommodations, only that they must tell parents what they have.

Any private academy, for-profit virtual school, or other non-public school is eligible. But you and I will never know which private schools get our tax dollars. The conference report requires that the schools’ identities be protected. Read more about the problems with the voucher bill hereLegislators should vote ‘NO’ on this bill (no on privatizing public education). It’s going to be close –your legislator’s vote could make the difference!

MAEP Funding 
The word at the capitol is that MAEP funding will be increased by only $10-million, shortchanging our children by $255-million. Legislators swear they don’t have enough money to move any closer to keeping their promise of an adequate education for our kids and sufficient accommodations for public school children with special needs. But they apparently do have enough to fill the state’s Rainy Day Fund to its statutory limit. Perhaps legislators have not fully grasped how serious you and I are about the need for much better MAEP funding. The budget has not been finalized – you still have a little time to influence the outcome. Click here to see how legislators turn recurring revenue into one-time money to avoid fully funding the MAEP.

Teacher Pay Raise 
Initially, the word was that Senate conferees were dug in and wouldn’t give on their position of only two years worth of raises with merit pay going into effect in year three. House conferees wanted to keep the two years of raises in the Senate plan, add two more in years three and four (the last two years contingent upon revenue growth), and ax the merit pay provision for the time being, citing its constitutional problems. Negotiators say next year’s $1,500 raise is safe, but the rest is still up in the air. We will keep watching for the result and let you know as soon as we know.

Please contact your legislators in every way possible (call, text, email, tweet) about killing vouchers, adding more to MAEP funding, and passing the strongest possible teacher pay raise. Legislators might miss your call but catch your text or tweet. 

Click here to contact your legislators through social media or email.

Ask your legislators to:

Increase significantly the MAEP funding in HB 1476

Vote ‘NO’ on vouchers (HB 765)

Support the strongest possible teacher pay raise (HB 504)

Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770

Share the same message with Lt. Governor Reeves and Speaker Gunn:

Lt. Governor Reeves  Capitol: 601.359.3200

Speaker Gunn  Capitol: 601.359.3300

If you are looking for easy ways to help, follow and “retweet” us on Twitter, “like” us and share our posts on Facebook, and check for updates on our website.

Please remember to thank the legislators who are with us on these issues! They are getting a lot of pressure to vote against the interests of our children and their schools – they need to know how much we appreciate their service.

Tonight is the deadline for filing conference reports on appropriations bills. A report has been filed but it is not yet posted on the website. Because they are running behind, we expect the k-12 funding bill report to be a “dummy” report (all zeroes – they’ll recommit the bill and add real numbers tomorrow but still meet tonight’s filing deadline). The deadline for the teacher pay raise conference report to be filed is Monday. We will report what the conference reports contain as soon as we know. The voucher bill conference report is already posted.

Please ask your friends and family to join you in calling legislators – it is quick and easy and the most effective way to influence the outcome of these bills. And don’t forget those social media contacts. They work, too!

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