HB 890 – Amended by Senate Ed Committee

In a late afternoon meeting, the Senate Education Chairman proposed amendments to HB 890 that included language from a number of bills, a surprise move that left committee members scrambling to decipher the tremendous omnibus bill. The amendment includes the following:

Charter Schools

·         Contains the for-profit loophole, allowing for-profits to manage charter schools

·         Gives A & B districts local board veto authority and gives C districts veto power until July 2016

·         Allows students to cross district lines to attend charter schools

·         Limits the number of charters approved to 15 per year

·         Adds the same language allowing an MDE takeover of failing schools that was added to the House bill: Allows a takeover by the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE) of any school (not district) that is rated F for two consecutive years; school would could be dissolved or consolidated

·         Virtuals are not included


·         A poor attempt at a reading initiative that does nothing to improve instruction

·         Creates more reporting requirements for teachers

·         Is an unfunded mandate for schools

·         Retains children without improving instruction

·         Is a recipe for maintaining low achievement and driving up drop-out rates

Teacher Education Programs

·         Increases requirements for entry into schools of education to 21 ACT and 3.0 GPA

·         Establishes a Teacher Education Scholars Program to provide scholarships to college and university students in teacher education programs who hold a minimum ACT score of 28 and a GPA of 3.5.

·         Provides a $6,000/year supplement to Education Scholars graduates who teach in a school rated D or F with the supplement to be paid for a maximum of five years

·         Does not include the merit pay pilot program

The bill should be amended to:

·         Focus charter schools where the existing public schools are chronically underperforming

·         Close the for-profit loophole to prohibit for-profits from managing charter schools (traditional schools are not allowed to contract out the management of their schools to for-profits)

·         Provide retraining of teachers in effective reading instruction techniques

·         Provide reading coaches (reading experts) in schools

·         Make the bill subject to appropriation

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