“People overestimate what they can accomplish in one legislative session and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten.”

As the 2021 legislative session comes to a close, we’re conducting a review of all that Mississippi lawmakers have accomplished over the last 10 years. All in all, it’s been a very productive period.

In this series we will be providing highlights of policy reforms passed in a range of different areas: Education, Healthcare, Right to Life, Civil Liberty Protections (“God and Guns”), Welfare/Foster Care, Regulatory Reform and Budgeting/Taxes. This list is not comprehensive, and we feature only the laws we like, many of which were initiated by MCPP (marked by an *asterisk* below).

These are the highpoints in education policy over the past 10 years:

Mississippi passed its first charter school law (HB 369) in 2013. The law was updated and improved in 2015 (HB 859) and, again, in 2016 (SB 2161). Mississippi now has six charter schools.*

Also in 2013, the state enacted the third-grade reading gate program, sponsored by Senator Angela Hill (SB 2347). This law prioritizes teaching kids how to read by third grade. We were the 14th state to pass it. Since this law was enacted, Mississippi’s fourth-grade reading scores (on the NAEP) have dramatically improved.*

In 2013, the state also reformed the way it evaluates districts and schools, replacing an inflated system in which a “C” school was labelled “Successful” with the easy-to-understand format of A-B-C-D-F. We were the 14th state in the country to enact this policy (SB 2396).*

Two years later, in 2015, the Legislature passed the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act (SB 2695), sponsored by Senator Nancy Collins and championed by Rep. Carolyn Crawford. This law creates a scholarship program that allows children with special needs to attend a private school if that school can better meet their needs. Mississippi was the third state in the nation to enact this kind of program.*

In 2020, Mississippi became the second state in the country to pass an innovative apprenticeship/internship program called Learn to Earn, sponsored by Rep. Kent McCarty (HB 1336). Learn to Earn enables kids in public school to obtain access to high-quality educational opportunities with businesses and nonprofits. *

Also worth mentioning is that lawmakers gave teachers a pay raise in: 2021 ($1,000); 2019 ($1,500); and 2014 ($1,500).