Legislative Update | February 8, 2021

The last two weeks here in Jackson have been especially busy as we faced the deadline for bills to make it out of committee in their originating chambers. We have our eye on several bills that have emerged from committee and will now head to the full House for consideration in addition to a few pieces of legislation that have already successfully passed through the Senate.

SENATE SB 2267, a bill that would allow teachers from other states reciprocity with a valid teaching license and a background check and SB 2305, the William F. Winter and Jack Reed, Sr., Teacher Loan Repayment Program, have both passed through the Senate. You can read more about the proposed loan repayment program here and hear from the bill’s author, Sen. David Blount, on Mississippi Today’s political podcast here.  

We’re also keeping an eye on two non-education bills that would have a profound impact on public education in Mississippi. SB 2798 and SB 2559 would expand broadband access across the state. Both bills have passed through the Senate.

HOUSE HB 427, our trauma-informed practices bill passed through committee last week. This bill prioritizes student mental health and a whole-child approach and equips educators and districts with the tools they need to identify ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) as they manage students impacted by trauma in the classroom and beyond.

Similar to other child and family-serving organizations, being trauma-informed in schools means being informed about and sensitive to trauma, and providing a safe, stable, and understanding environment for students and staff. We’re grateful for committee chairman Richard Bennett’s leadership and the bill’s sponsors, Reps. Billy Adam Calvert, Jon Lancaster, Troy Smith, Kent McCarty, Shanda Yates, and Kevin Felsher, for recognizing and prioritizing the need for a whole-child approach in Mississippi schools.

HB 302, our community schools bill, also passed out of committee last week. This bill seeks to amend the Districts of Innovation legislation and would pave the way for Mississippi public schools to become community schools.

What is a community school? A community school is at the center of the community — open all day, every day, to everyone— and brings together academics, health and social services, youth and community development and community engagement under one roof, leading to improved learning, stronger families, and healthier communities.

Community schools are more than just wraparound services provided to individual students in need. Rather, community schools use strategic, results-focused partnerships to improve a wide range of outcomes.

A special thank you to Rep. Angela Cockerham for her leadership and sponsorship of this bill and her continued support of community schools and this innovative approach to education in our state.

WHAT’S NEXT | Good news: The teacher pay raise bill is still alive and awaiting House action! We’ll continue to monitor its progress in addition to the many other education bills still on the calendar and update you as we have news to share.

Curious about our other legislative priorities? You can see our complete agenda here.