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A monthly bulletin of news and analysis from Mississippi First  I  June 13, 2014

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NOTES
Quick update of MSF over the past month

CHARTER SCHOOLS
Implementing the new Charter Schools Act of 2013 

CHART INITIATIVE
Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens

PRE-KINDERGARTEN
State-funded preK implementation 

SCHOOL TURNAROUND
Focus on Common Core State Standards

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT
Opportunities to influence educational policy

CHART Infographic
Learn more about sex education in Mississippi.
PreK Tax Incentive FAQ
Learn more about the tax incentive.
PreK Tax Incentive
Learn more about the preK tax incentive.
PARCC One-Pager
Learn more about PARCC testing in Mississippi.
Math Course Pathways
Interested in seeing how the Common Core State Standards will affect math class pathways in high school?
What is a Charter School? (Downloadable PDF. Optimal printing size is 11” x 14”.)

How to Open a Charter School in Mississippi. (Downloadable PDF. Optimal printing size is 11” x 14”.)

What is a charter school?
A short video explaining charter schools in Mississippi. 

What is the difference between a charter school and a traditional public school?
A short video explaining the difference between a charter school and a traditional public school in Mississippi. 
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR NOTES
Quick update of MSF over the past month

Wow! This year seems to be flying by at the Mississippi First office. In May, we continued our work in making Mississippi first in education!

PreK Campaign: It is official! We are in the middle of our preK campaign. Help us reach our goal of $10,000 in three weeks! Remember, Mississippi First is a nonprofit, so your gift is completely tax deductible. All proceeds raised will impact our research and advocacy in preK. Stay updated on our progress via Facebook.

MSF on charter schools: What a huge month for charter schools in Mississippi! The Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board approved the first charter school, Reimagine Prep, which will serve grades 5-8 in Jackson, MS. Angela also had a great op ed, Charter Schools: A Choice to Integrate?, that was released in the Clarksdale Press-Register and the Clarion-Ledger.

MSF Summer Intern and TFA Fellows: We love summer at MSF because it means we have even more hands on deck. This summer, we are hosting an Ole Miss Intern, Kaitlyn Barton (the president of our Ole Miss College Chapter); April Wang, a doctoral student from the Harvard Graduate School of Education; and two Teach For America Fellows Mehreen Butt and Amelia Huckins. Kaitlyn will be spending her time working on upcoming Common Core programming  and developing additional college chapters around the state. April will be researching ways to improve our state’s early childhood governance structure. Mehreen will be developing materials for our work with CHART. Amelia is technically the intern of the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board, but we are happily providing her office space this summer. Welcome, ladies! 

Thank you for your continued support,


Rachel Canter
Executive Director

CHARTER SCHOOLS
Implementing the new Charter Schools Act of 2013

May was a historic month for charter schools in Mississippi. Following the review of applications and a 90-minute capacity interview taking place in May, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board approved the first charter school in Mississippi on June 2. Reimagine Prep, the approved school, is a public charter school to be located in Jackson. The Authorizer Board reviewed 3 final applicants using an evaluator tool. Once they announced their decision, the Board encouraged applicants to reach out to them in order to receive comments and feedback on their applications. We, at Mississippi First, are excited about this huge gain for public school choice in Mississippi. We will continue to provide updates, feedback, and information to the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board and the public on the state of charter schools as charter schools become a part of the educational landscape in Mississippi.

Also, the Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board released the Executive Director job description on their new website, charterschoolboard.ms.gov. If you are interested in the position, you can review the job description here. The deadline for applications is June 16, 2014. The Board also posted the Fall 2014 Request for Proposals to their website for public comment. They will be accepting comments until June 16, 2014.

CHART INITIATIVE
Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens

Creating Healthy and Responsible Teens (CHART)

In the past month, Josh and Sanford travelled to North Carolina and Washington, D.C. to continue our work with CHART. While in North Carolina, they attended the Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina's (APPCNC) conference, where they met with sex ed advocates to discuss some of the great work they are doing in NC and how we could replicate some of that work in MS. At the beginning of June, Advocates for Youth held their annual State Summit in D.C. The Mississippi team presented on our current work with CHART, and Sanford and Josh had time to meet with our congressional representatives about our work with sex education and CHART.

Our intrepid Director of Communications, MacKenzie Stroh, has dedicated May and June to telling the story of CHART on film. In early July, we will be releasing a 15-minute video that reviews the history of sex education in Mississippi, discusses the importance of high-quality sex education in Mississippi, and explains CHART and how districts can get involved. Stay tuned, CHART: The Movie is coming to a district near you!

PRE-KINDERGARTEN
State-funded preK implementation

On May 13, we co-hosted a professional learning meeting for all of the approved collaboratives. This meeting provided an opportunity for the collaboratives to hear updates from MDE, network, share learning, and receive information about using the new state tax credit to support their programs.

We also made a presentation about the tax credit at the May meeting of the Delta Bridge Project Steering Committee in Clarksdale. In order to learn more information about the preK tax incentives, visit our website. Next month, we will be adding some videos to our site about how individuals and businesses can take advantage of the tax credit. Did you know that this is one of the only tax credits that individual Mississippians can easily access? As a 1:1 tax credit, if you give $100 to your local preK collaborative, $100 is directly subtracted from your annual tax burden. If you are interested in learning more about the preK tax incentive, contact Angela Bass at angela@mississippifirst.org.

SCHOOL TURNAROUND
Focus on Common Core State Standards

Common Core

Common Core has been under the microscope across the nation during the 2014 legislative cycle. Over the past month, two more states withdrew from Common Core (Oklahoma and South Carolina). Common Core has also recently become a topic during the primary elections. Mississippi First is dedicated to educating the public about the importance of the Common Core State Standards in Mississippi. Make sure to continue to visit CommonCoreMS! We will be updating even more regularly over the next few months in order to help provide additional resources and information about implementing the Common Core State Standards in Mississippi schools.

This month, the Mississippi Department of Education approved $8.4 million to be used for the new state assessments that are aligned to the Common Core State Standards. MDE also heard back from the US Department of Education; they approved a one-year waiver to freeze school letter grades for the 2013-2014 school year as Mississippi transitions to college- and career-ready standards and aligned assessments.

COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

For the past 8 months, Mississippi First has been working to organize young professionals (ages 20-40) who are interested in improving education in Mississippi. We have discussed our policy work with young professionals in Cleveland, Starkville, and the Gulf Coast. Through our partnership with Leadership for Educational Equity, we are also identifying important education issues through one-on-one conversations and house meetings. Our aim for this organizing effort is to give young parents, those involved in education professionally, and concerned citizens an opportunity to influence education policy on the local and state level.

The people we have met with have raised dozens of issues raised about the need for better education in Mississippi. These issues have covered the gamut from school and district leadership to nutrition and early childhood education. As we continue to connect with more people in more communities, we expect to hear new issues and priorities. By the start of Fall 2014, we want to reach 20 communities through our organizing efforts. By early October 2014, we will call on our participants to help us narrow down our broad list of issues into 1-2 specific policy goals.

If you’re interested in learning more or taking part in our organizing effort, please contact Sanford Johnson at sanford@mississippifirst.org.
Copyright © 2014 Mississippi First, All rights reserved.


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