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Education Bills Moving Up in Legislative Session

JACKSON, MISS– Raising the bar seems to be the theme of education bills in this year’s legislative session as higher standards are placed on both students and the school districts. 

Increasing the passing score for the third grade reading gate is a bill that is garnering support. House bill 51 passes the committees and is headed to the full house floor for more debate. The required state reading test score for third graders to pass on to the fourth grade could be raised from the “minimal” level to the “basic” level.  If this bill passes and becomes law, it would impact students who would be entering third grade in 2019.

Parents are also expecting more from school districts, and may be able to go elsewhere to have their needs met, thanks to the advancement of charter school bills in the session. Education committees in both the house and senate have cleared bills for the next level of discussion in the house and senate that would allow parents to send their kids to charter schools that are not located in their current school district. Essentially, despite location, parents would have the option to let their student “jump” district lines to go to the school that better suits their needs.

Not only could the lines between school districts be blurred, but Senate bill 2161 also opens the door for more charter schools across the state by removing the requirement for a “C” rating in the local district before a charter school could be built there. School districts with “D” and “F” ratings would be able to start the process of acquiring a charter school without going through all the red tape for board approval.

With the charter school bills, the fear from lawmakers is that students will flee school districts–taking their tax dollars with them– and leaving bigger struggles for already suffering districts.

These bills are not yet law; bills must be cleared by committees, the full house and senate, and then head to the governor to be signed into law.

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