EDITOR'S NOTE: While this list is extensive, it is not complete and will continue to be updated. Know of any legislation that's not on this list? Let us know here.
- Education made both an early and a notable entrance in the Mississippi legislature, which began its session Jan. 21. The state has several education bills to consider, including a proposal by state Rep. Credell Calhoun, D-Jackson, to require teachers to recite the Ten Commandments at the start of every school day, as well as to frame a copy and hang it in every classroom.
- Another bill, authored by state Rep. William Shirley, R-Quitman, would fine schools $1,500 for not requiring teachers and students to say the Pledge of Allegiance within the first hour of the school day. In both cases, teachers and students who object can sit out of reciting the pledge.
- It’s possible a teacher pay raise and limits on student testing could be in the works, but reports say it’s unlikely school funding will see any significant attention or changes. Education officials including State Superintendent Carey Wright — who is paid more than any other state K-12 education leader in the U.S. — could see pay decreases with the passage of another bill proposed by Shirley.
- According to Mississippi law, kids who are homeschooled aren’t allowed to take part in extracurricular activities, including after-school sports, in their public school district, but that would change under a bill sponsored by state Rep. William Tracy Arnold, R-Booneville.
- The legislature will also debate a bill that would expand rural broadband access.
- A few bills look at credentials for educators and other education officials. S.B. 2021 would waive some credential requirements for specific individuals looking to teach, and S.B. 2034 would mandate that school board members have at least an associate degree from “an accredited junior or community college or a minimum of 60 semester hours and a minimum GPA of 2.0 from an accredited junior college, community college or four-year college or university.”
- If a district is awarded an A, B or C grade by the state, S.B. 2055 would allow its schools to be exempt from certain regulations and procedures.
- State Sen. Kevin Blackwill, R-Southaven, proposed multiple bills: One would guarantee that the state reimburses schools that hire school resource officers, and another would mandate that in order to graduate high school or obtain a GED, a student would have to score at least a 60% on the civics portion of the naturalization test used by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
- Lastly, a Senate bill moves to allow students to carry and use sunscreen at school without a parent’s or doctor’s permission.