Dangerous Bills Pass House Education Committee

Public schools need your help to stop dangerous bills that have passed the House Education Committee.
HB 1449 is an affront to public schools and the hard work of Mississippi teachers. It calls for a study committee to evaluate the feasibility of universal vouchers in Mississippi – vouchers that would be available to all K-12 students in the state, including students already attending private schools. We don’t need a study committee – we can see clearly the disastrous consequences to state budgets, voucher students, and public schools in the states that have allowed universal voucher programs. Those pushing vouchers want a dual system of taxpayer-funded schools with two different sets of rules: Public schools are open to all children and are highly accountable to taxpayers for the quality of education they provide. Private voucher schools pick and choose the students they want and deny the others, with no accountability at all for the use of taxpayer dollars.
HB 1192 is a bill being pushed by a for-profit virtual school company that has pocketed a fortune while moving kids backward with abysmal academic results in other states. This bill would allow these horrendous virtual schools to prey on unsuspecting public schools and Mississippi children.
HB 867 imposes an extensive administrative burden on school districts, requiring that they report publicly the capacity in each grade of each school that is available for out-of-district transfer students. Students move in and out of schools with such frequency these numbers would change constantly, opening school districts to lawsuits for posting inaccurate capacity numbers. The bill is designed to allow students to attend schools in districts where they do not live and do not pay property taxes, creating a perverse incentive for current residents of school districts with a strong local tax base to relocate to a lower-taxed district but leave their children in the schools that benefit from the higher local taxes.
HB 1449, HB 1192, and HB 867 have passed the House Education Committee and are awaiting floor votes.
HB 1453, the House plan to obliterate the MAEP, Mississippi’s school funding formula, and allow the Legislature to decide how much funding schools need, has not yet come up in committee but is expected to be taken up on Tuesday. The 400+ page bill is rife with problems, one of the most egregious being the elimination of an objective formula for the base per-student cost, which is supposed to reflect the true cost of educating a Mississippi student to proficiency in core subjects. Instead, the Legislature would pull from thin air the number that best suits their budget goals. The bill, which has had no public input, has numerous other problems, some of which are unintended consequences. Any total rewrite of our school funding formula needs careful, deliberate thought with input from those most affected by it: public school educators and parents of children in public schools.
Capitol Switchboard: 601.359.3770
Find additional contact information for legislators: https://msparentscampaign.org/legislators-by-school-district/#list
Speaker White: 601.359.3300
Things are now moving quickly in this session. Legislators are faced with so many bills on so many issues that it is difficult for them to know the true consequences of a particular piece of legislation. That’s where we come in. We promise to keep a close eye on the education bills and to alert you to problems that need our attention. Please make those calls. Our children and teachers are counting on us, and together, we’ve got this!

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