Tomorrow is the deadline for the House and Senate to act on general bills that originated in the other chamber. (The deadline for the funding bills comes later.) Numerous members have called, emailed, and texted from your spring break vacations to check on the status of the voucher, funding, and pay-raise bills. No action has been taken on those as of today – I promise to keep you posted!
So many of you have developed wonderful relationships with your legislators, and you proudly report that they share your opposition to the voucher bills and your support for adequate funding for our children’s schools.
Others have expressed frustration at what they perceive to be their legislators’ half-hearted support for public schools. They note that, so often, there is a disconnect between what legislators profess to support and how they actually vote. Their points are well taken. Click here to see the difference between what some legislators say and what they do.
Here’s what we know:
The voucher bills are a thinly veiled effort to privatize and “profitize” public education. They divert state funds to private schools with no state oversight, and though the bills are being promoted as a way to better serve children with special needs, the private voucher schools are not required to provide any special services at all. A special needs advocacy group, Families As Allies, has publicly announced its opposition to these voucher bills, noting that the bills threaten the welfare of children with special needs. Read more here. Legislators should vote no on HB 765 and SB 2325.
Revenue is at record levels. Sufficient funding is available to provide a meaningful teacher pay raise AND move closer to full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). As state leaders have noted, the budget is still a work in progress, and ample time remains to increase funding for our children’s schools. In years past, legislators have made a habit of funneling money to pet programs and stuffing funds into reserve accounts and then shrugging their shoulders and claiming that no money is left to fund public schools. It’s time for them to make our children’s future their priority by amending HB 1476 to increase MAEP funding and amending HB 504 to include the strongest possible teacher pay raise.
I know that many of you are on spring break – and heaven knows you deserve a rest! But if you have just a minute, please make a quick call to your legislators, or contact them via email, text, or social media, to remind them how important their votes are to our kids’ futures.
Click here to contact your legislators through social media or email.
Ask your legislators to:
Vote no on SB 2325 and HB 765 (voucher bills)
Increase MAEP funding in HB 1476
Support the strongest possible teacher pay raise (HB 504)
Some good news is that, recently in the Senate and today in the House, legislators rose to defend local control of public schools. In the Senate, Sen. Videt Carmichael proposed an amendment to SB 2571 to repeal the School Start Date Act and return control of the school calendar to local school boards. Today, House members rejected changes to that bill in order to avoid conference and send it straight to Governor Bryant for his signature. That bill was held on a motion to reconsider, so it isn’t a done deal yet, but it’s close. Your legislators heard you, and they responded.