What is Initiative 42 all about? 



Adrian Shipman and Jim Keith Discuss 
Supreme Court Hearing On 
the Decoy Ballot Initiative | MPB News


Supreme Court To Decide Fate Of Ballot Initiative 42-A
By Paul Boger | Mississippi Public Broadcast | June 9, 2015
Click to listen to the radio broadcast. 

For nearly three hours yesterday, all nine of Mississippi's Supreme Court justices heard arguments about whether a Hinds County Judge overstepped his authority when he changed the title to a legislative alternative to an education funding ballot initiative.

The original language for 42-A would require lawmakers to fund a -- quote -- "effective system of free public schools." However, public education advocates complained that language was misleading, and challenged it in a Hinds County court where Judge Winston Kidd changed it.Click here to continue reading. 


Court hears arguments over initiative alternative language
By Bobby Harrison | Daily Journal | June 9, 2015

Adrian Shipman, an Oxford parent who supports the citizen-led school funding initiative, speaks to reporters after listening to arguments before the Mississippi Supreme Court. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

JACKSON – The nine-member Mississippi Supreme Court heard arguments for nearly two hours Tuesday on what 20 words should appear on the November ballot to describe a legislative alternative to a citizen-sponsored initiative designed to enhance funding for public education.

Michael Wallace, a Jackson attorney representing the legislative leadership, argued to the justices that Hinds County Circuit Judge Winston Kidd did not have the authority to change the ballot title for the legislative alternative developed by the office of Attorney General Jim Hood.

Justices peppered both Wallace and attorneys for the citizen-sponsored initiative supporters, who had asked Kidd to change the AG's language, with numerous, tough questions.

In the end, the only issue to the two sides seemed to agree is that a quick resolution is needed because the ballot for the November general elections must be printed in early September, and before then Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has scheduled public hearings on the the legislative alternative and citizens' initiative.

"Time is of the essence here," said Jackson attorney Jim Keith, who represents Adrian Shipman, an Oxford mother of two in the public schools, who asked Kidd to change the language approved by the AG office because she said it was too similar to the language of the citizen-sponsored initiative and would confuse voters in November.Click here to continue reading. 

Related Articles
Schools Funding Now Up to State Supreme Court
Justices question clarity of school funding ballot titles
Miss. Supreme Court hears from both sides of Initiative 42


Click here to watch the video on WCBI's website.
By Robby Donoho | WCBI | May 30, 2015

Champion Dev Jaiswal returns home from placing 5th place at the National Scripps Spelling Bee Contest. MSU Baseball Coach Zack Dillon presented Dev with a game-worn jersey, a baseball signed by John Cohen, and a promise that Dev will throw out the first ball of a game next year. 

Click here to watch the video on WCBI's website.

LOUISVILLE, Miss. (WCBI) — It was a welcome home fit for a hero. 
That's what Louisville native and Winston Academy eighth grader Dev Jaiswal has become for the state of Mississippi. Click here to read the story


Miss. speller ends journey a crowd favorite

By Deborah Barfield Berry | Clarion-Ledger | May 28, 2015

 Dev Jaiswal of Louisville

(Photo: Gannett)

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md – . Dev Jaiswal of Louisville said he didn't know the word the announcer at the Scripps National Spelling Bee rattled off Thursday night. He used his trademark technique to visualize the word, then used his finger to scribble it on the back of his blue name card.

But the word "iridocyclitis" ended Dev's journey at the bee. He spelled it "i-r-i-d-o-c-i-c-l-i-t-i-s'.'

Before stepping off the stage, the eighth-grader from Winston Academy received a standing ovation that lasted minutes.

"That was my biggest trophy," said Dev, who will be too old next year to compete in the 2016 contest. "This has been the journey of a lifetime."

Click here to continue reading this amazing student's journey from MAE-sponsored Spelling Bee to the national finals!

See also Winston Academy's Dev Jaiswal Finishes 5th in National Spelling Bee.


(AP Photo/Cliff Owen). Dev Jaiswal, 13, of Jackson, Miss., gives two thumbs-up as his word, "bravura", is used in a sentence before he correctly spells it, during the 2015 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md., Wednesday, May 27, 2015.

National Spelling Bee: 
Thirteen-year-old Dev Jaiswal 
of Louisville, Mississippi, 
is the top-ranked speller!!

By Ben Nuckols | Associated Press | WJTV

OXON HILL, Md. (AP) - The semifinals of the 88th Scripps National Spelling Bee are underway, with 49 of the nation's top young spellers competing for more than $37,000 in cash and prizes.

The semifinalists include three who made the finals last year. Three siblings of past champions also made it. Thirteen-year-old Vanya Shivashankar of Olathe, Kansas, is trying for the fifth and final time to equal the accomplishment of her sister, who won in 2009.

For the first time, the bee has ranked the spellers based on their performance on two spelling and vocabulary tests. Thirteen-year-old Dev Jaiswal of Louisville, Mississippi, is the top-ranked speller. Vanya is sixth. Last year's third-place finisher, Gokul Venkatachalam, is 11th. The top 12 who don't miss a word in the semifinals will make the finals.




The Promise Aircheck
By WABG, Channel 6 News | May 2015

This is a wonderful and uplifing story about Alisa Archie, president of the Carroll County Association of Educators. Ms. Archie is a nearly 30-year educator who made a promise to her eighth grade class of 2010, a promise that she kept in 2015. Watch this lovely and uplifting story of an educator whose love and dedication to her students were reflected back to her by the same students whose lives she touched. The story aired during National Teacher Appreciation Week. Please click the video to watch! 



Mississippi Educators:  
Assessing students meaningfully
must incorporate multiple measures of learning


Jackson, Miss. — "As a grandparent and a public school educator for 37 years, I know that the purpose of assessments is to guide instruction and help students advance in learning," stated Joyce Helmick, president of the Mississippi Association of Educators (MAE). "As professional educators, we oppose using one test to determine whether a student moves forward in a grade or is retained for an entire year. Assessing students meaningfully must incorporate multiple measures of learning, including measures that assess higher-order thinking skills which high-stakes standardized tests alone fail to determine."

"A recent news article reported young students being stressed out, crying, running fevers, and getting sick to their stomachs, because of these standardized tests," Helmick continued. "The pressure placed on our students is enormous. Children understand all too well that their test results may be used to label them or their school as a failure. This is simply wrong. We must return the love of learning to our students. We must also return to the classrooms the professional judgment of our students' teachers."




School's Third Grade Reading Test Results Expected Today
By Evelina Burnett | MPB | May 8, 2015

"The educators who are there with the students all agree that we must go to multiple assessments," [Helmick] says. "And that one score, one chance, one grade does not judge the success of the student."


Click below to listen to the interview.


Check out your school's
3rd grade reading test scores

Click to view the pdf with the scores.


Not Everyone on Board with Third Grade Reading Assessment Score
By Candace Cole | WJTV | May 7, 2015 

A score of 926 is the new number standing between third graders making it on to the fourth grade according to new third grade reading guidelines implemented by the Mississippi Board of Education.

As it stands right now, 15% of Mississippi's third graders have failed the reading assessment they were given in April and some aren't exactly convinced that this is the right way to measure whether a child passes or fails.

Jackson Education Interventionist Carol Redfield says, "No circumstances should one test determine the capability of any child"

This is the first year the 50 question, computerized test is being implemented. The test becomes increasingly difficult with every correct answer given.

Based on Thursday's announcement, nearly 6,000 kids face being held back based on last month's test scores. However, some parents feel more time should've been given to allow both students and teachers time to become familiar with how the assessment works.

Cassandra Welchin is a parent who sits on the Jackson Council PTA says, "It would've made good sense to not have implemented this given that the state has not put the resources behind it and we have modeled this off of a state that's put millions of dollars into this particular law and Mississippi did not do that." Click to continue reading. 




Carey M. Wright, Ed.D., State Superintendent of Education
Office of Communications & Legislative Support
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR, Director of Communications *601-359-3706 *FAX: 601-359-3033
Jean Cook, Communications Specialist *601-359-3519

For Immediate Release: May 7, 2015

Passing Score Approved for 3rd Grade Reading Test

JACKSON, Miss. – The Mississippi Board of Education today approved the passing score for the test that determines whether 3rd graders are ready for 4th grade reading instruction.

Students need to score at least 926 on the 3rd Grade Reading Summative Assessment, which was administered in public schools statewide in April. Statewide, an estimate of 85 percent of 3rd graders achieved a passing score on the reading test. Local school districts will determine which of their students who did not pass qualify for one of the good cause exemptions for promotion to 4th grade. The remaining students will be retested before a decision is made about their promotion or retention.

Students who did not meet the passing score will be given two opportunities to retest. The first retest window is May 18-22, 2015. The second retest opportunity will take place between June 29 and August 7, 2015. Click here to continue reading.





Testing gives third-graders upset stomachs, tears and even fevers

An interview with a Mississippi teacher

By Jackie Mader | Hechinger Report | May 1, 2015

Darla Miller, a third-grade teacher in the Neshoba County School District, says that Common Core has not changed much in her classroom, but testing has led to extensive changes. Photo: A Teacher Like You 

T his year was the first year that Mississippi teachers taught the Common Core standards in grades kindergarten through 12th grade.

Q: How are students handling the new exams?

A: They get stressed out. They cry. They get sick at their stomachs. They spontaneously start running fevers. They get so nervous unless you tell them 'this is not life and death, you're not going to lose your job over this, you're not going to be in trouble.

Click here to continue reading.


 Teachers dig into own pockets as Mississippi struggles
By Seema Iyer, Esq. | The Docket / The Shift on MSNBC.com | April 21, 2015 


Please click to watch the video on the MSNBC website. 

Mississippi public schools are making student learning decisions based on finances and it’s worse than it’s ever been. Carroll County School district’s Superintendent has been put in a situation of cutting his own salary to benefit his students.

NOTE: The Mississippi Association of Educators is mentioned inside the first 40 seconds of the story!



Educational failings hinder economic growth

By Monica Land | Clarion-Ledeger | April 18, 2015 

Vaiden has 42 acres of prime real estate ready for an industry, Mayor Mel Hawthorne said. The land is now being used as a nature trail.
(Photo: Monica Land/Special to The Clarion-Ledger)

The economic climate in the small town of Vaiden, in Carroll County, is not unlike every other poor municipality within the state. Deserted houses and abandoned buildings litter what would otherwise be a breathtaking landscape. But what compounds the tragedy in Vaiden is that both its elementary and high schools stand empty — a constant reminder of a once thriving past. And a clear indication of its future. A future devoid of expansion and hope.

The Mississippi Development Authority and other business analysts agree the state has made strides in recruiting new and foreign industries, working with existing companies on expansion and adding 17,000 new jobs to the region.

Still, a lacking educational system has been detrimental in attracting new industry.

"They killed our future when they closed our schools," said Vaiden Mayor Mel Hawthorne. "I talked to a man about franchising a Subway here and when he asked how many schools we had, and I said none, his whole facial expression changed."

Hawthorne speaks to one of the biggest problems Mississippi has in attracting future industry. Education. Or more accurately, the lack of it. Please click to continue reading.




Judge rules in favor of Oxford mom's ed initiative lawsuit

By Kate Royals | Clarion-Ledger | April 2, 2015

A judge ruled in favor of the Oxford mother who filed a lawsuit against the legislature's alternative to the Initiative 42 ballot measure, a citizen-sponsored education funding initiative that seeks to mandate the legislature fully fund public schools. Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston L. Kidd denied the motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed by attorney Michael Wallace on behalf of the legislature.

After hearing arguments from several attorneys, Kidd also ruled that the ballot title as it stands now is not in accordance with Mississippi law requiring that the ballot language may not "intentionally be an argument, nor likely to create prejudice, either for or against the measure."

"It's not this court's role to be involved in the politics of this particular ballot measure," Kidd said at the conclusion of Thursday's hearing. "But the court does have the role and the responsibility as proposed by the Attorney General's office is not in accordance with Mississippi law."

"The ballot title will be changed and altered by this court."

Critics of the legislature's alternative say the language is intended to confuse voters, who will be faced with two choices on the November ballot.Click here to continue reading. 


Judge rules against Legislature on citizen initiative suit

By Bobby Harrison | Daily Journal | April 3, 2015


JACKSON – A Hinds County circuit judge ruled on Thursday that the Attorney General’s Office must change the wording of an alternative the Mississippi Legislature passed to the citizen-sponsored initiative designed to enhance the state’s commitment to the funding of public education.

Judge Winston Kidd ruled in favor of Adrian Shipman, a mother of two in the Oxford Public Schools, that the legislature’s alternative language was too confusing and too similar to the original citizen’s initiative language. Kidd has ordered that language to be changed. The new alternative language, which was not immediately available, would follow a suggestion offered by Better Schools, Better Jobs, the group that worked to put the initiative on the ballot for this November.

The grassroots Better Schools, Better Jobs group worked last year to garner nearly 200,000 signatures to place on the ballot a proposal to amend the state Constitution to enhance the responsibility to fully fund education. Education has been underfunded more than $1.5 billion since 2008 and the budget proposal passed earlier this session by the Legislature would leave education underfunded an additional $200 million for the next school year. Click to continue reading!