Monday, June 10, 2024

Hosemann: Major Education Legislation Advanced in 2024 Session

Our students and schools are excelling in Mississippi.

We are one of only five states in the nation to meet all quality benchmarks for early education—and we have increased capacity in legislatively-funded programs by 6,160 seats since 2020. More students are passing the Third-Grade reading test on the first administration. At a whopping 89.4 percent, our graduation rate is the highest it has ever been, exceeding the national rate by almost 3 points.

Building on these achievements, the Legislature advanced major education legislation this Session to keep the Mississippi miracles coming.

Topping the list, we replaced the decades-old school funding formula. The new formula injects an additional $217.4 million into public schools, plus funds to cover health insurance and retirement plan increases. This is in addition to a $100 million funding increase and $300 million in teacher pay raises last term.

Here is how the formula was created and how it works: the Senate devised a calculation, run by operation of law, for a base student cost which is centered on the average teacher salary and teacher-student ratio in Mississippi. This year, the base student cost is about $6,695. The House replaced the old formula’s “add-ons” to the base student cost with weights for students who are low-income, have a special need, English language learners, gifted, or in a career and technical education class. Then, a sparsity factor is applied to help rural districts pay costs associated with transporting students long distances. Finally, the school district’s local contribution is subtracted from the total amount.

In addition to increasing funding, we simplified the calculations so school districts can now budget better and improve the allocation of their resources to student populations with significant needs.

We passed a bill to allow retired teachers in areas facing a district-wide or subject area shortage to return to the classroom full time while drawing down their benefits. Until now, teachers could only return to teach half the year after retirement, an arbitrary limitation I never found justified. With a current shortage of more than 5,000 teachers and the need for mentors for those new to the job, we must give every experienced teacher who wants to come back the opportunity to return to the classroom.

We also set the stage to address a growing mental health crisis. Last summer, when I visited schools, the No. 1 issue parents and educators brought to my attention was the deterioration of student mental health after the pandemic. Following Texas’s lead, we created a task force to assess current training and resources to address the challenges our students are facing, determine where gaps exist, and look at other states’ successful models.

Other significant legislation from this Session impacting our students and schools included bills to: • Reauthorize the Education Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) allowing children with special needs like dyslexia or autism to use funds allocated for their base student cost at a different school if their current school does not meet their special need;

• Provide an additional $3 million toward career coaches for a total appropriation of $15 million. This will result in 200 coaches in 195 schools, meaning every secondary school which has requested a career coach will have one next year; and

• Reauthorize and expand the Winter-Reed Teacher Loan Repayment Program, which provides stipends directly to loan service providers for teachers which have outstanding student loan debt. This is another means to address the teacher shortage growing in the state.

A child’s brain is the most important resource we have in Mississippi. The work to protect and cultivate this critical resource is never done, but the Legislature made great strides this past Session.

Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann authored and sponsored this post. 

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS.

Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

Note: Security provided by INS