PLUNKETT: Claims by Pre-K proponents use junk studies to tap into federal money. 

BY: B. Keith Plunkett

The Columbus Dispatch Editorial Board in their infinite wisdom is urging legislators to make a real investment in our children’s futures by providing access to Pre-K to every child in our state.”

These stalwarts of research write that “if Mississippi is serious about improving its educational system, it makes perfect sense to start at the very beginning of the educational process with programs that have proven to be successful.”

Except, well, they haven’t proven to be successful at all. 

Furthermore, many studies show behavioral problems of children are heightened by being taken away from the important social structure of the family at such a formative age, a problem that often leads to a negative impact on their education and social skills years later. 

Despite this, the Dispatch Editorial Board writes:

Several state studies have also documented significant cognitive gains for children who receive Pre-K. In Georgia, children who attended the state’s universal program overcame the achievement gap they faced prior to enrolling in Pre-K by the time they finished kindergarten. Children who received Pre-K equaled or exceeded national norms in eight of nine standardized assessments by the end of their kindergarten year.  

This is true. Except they neglect to mention that by third grade, the cognitive gains seen at the end of kindergarten are gone, no longer measurably improved. In other words the investment in “Pre-K for all” ends up making kids no better off in third grade than they would have been without it. This little tidbit, of course, did not make it into the Dispatch opinion. 

In fact, they attempt to suggest the connection where it doesn’t exist:

A year after the legislature passed Gov. Bryant’s plan to require all Mississippi third-graders to be held back if they can’t read at grade level, the numbers are depressing. By some estimates, as many as 25 percent of our third-graders — more than 6,000 kids — will be held back this year, although there are efforts to give those students a one-year “grace period” to close the reading gap. 
As discouraging as those numbers are, we should not really be all that surprised because one of the best tools for ensuring the success of our younger students is available to only half of the state’s children. 

Education bureaucrats and their dupes in the media are playing bait and switch with the data, discussing out of hand results on 50-year old studies of less than 100 kids from Michigan, and mixing the findings in with modern day efforts in Georgia, Oklahoma and Tennessee. 

The real evidence from the more broad-based, randomized studies shows, at best, statistically insignificant results; at worst, the creation of social and behavioral problems by government intervention in the cognitive development of children. One of these is the most indepth study ever conducted on Head Start released in 2013. 

The 15-year long Head Start Impact Study released by HHS provided definitive evidence that the federal government’s 48-year experiment with Head Start has failed children and left taxpayers a tab of more than $180 billion. 

Which gets to the real reason to double down on this failure.

The real reason for this sales pitch has nothing to do with education and everything to do with federal money. The Obama Administration is looking to give away billions in grants and repetitive early childhood education program money to states willing to expand their programs, setting yet another hook in states to become more dependent on federal dollars and federal control.

Mississippians only need to look around at the decimation of our communities to see the outcome this dependence has brought upon us. Any legislator who turns a blind eye to it and continues to vote to hand control over to the Feds and those here who make big bucks suckling at the federal teat, doesn’t have our state, or what’s in the best interest of our children in mind. 

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Senator Chris McDaniel to run for third term in state senate, focus on uniting conservatives across Mississippi. 

Senator Chris McDaniel today announced he would seek re-election to a third term in the Mississippi Senate. McDaniel has been heavily courted by conservative groups across Mississippi to run for higher statewide office. He has been the subject of intense speculation and has been mentioned as a possible contender for Attorney General and Lt. Governor.
McDaniel launched the United Conservatives Fund PAC in late January to help unite and elect conservatives across the state. He said he will continue to faithfully serve the people of the 42nd district while working to build a strong conservative base.
“I have spent a great deal of time with my family and closest friends in coming to this decision,” said McDaniel. “I am honored by the hundreds of personal calls and thousands of messages I have received asking me to seek higher office. However, I believe the best possible decision I can make for my family and for the conservative movement in Mississippi is to seek reelection to the Mississippi State Senate and continue to build a solid foundation for conservatives to come together across the state.”
“The response across Mississippi to the launch of the United Conservatives Fund over the past month has been incredible. Hard working conservative Mississippians are ready to step up and serve like at no other time I can remember. That is why I have decided, rather than take the political movement we built in 2014 and run another campaign in a single election, the best possible way for me to positively change the future of Mississippi is to give those resources to the people. Together I believe we can take back our state capitol from political interests and strengthen the backbone of the Republican Party at the same time.”
“I am a proud son of Jones County and the Pine Belt,” he added. “Serving them has been my honor and I am happy to offer my service to them again.”
McDaniel said that discussion about his potential as a future federally elected official is one that still interests him.
“If there were an opportunity to serve the people of Mississippi as a federally elected official in the future, that would be something I would be very interested in,” he said. “But, as with this decision, when that time comes I will pray about it and consult with my family and friends before taking any such step. I am not one to politically position myself. I awake in the morning and I fight the battles that God presents to me that need to be fought. I will continue to do that in service to the people of District 42 and all Mississippians.” 

Chris McDaniel Press Release

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Sun Herald Editorial Board says tax phase-out plan backed by Speaker Gunn is a “deceptive, unworkable, cruel ploy”. 

The editorial board at the Sun Herald believes Speaker of the House Philip Gunn’s backing of a proposal to phase out Mississippi’s individual income tax is political pandering. They write that the plan is “both deceptive and unworkable” and even go to the lengths to describe it as “cruel” because, in their estimation, “it gives taxpayers the idea that state government really can give them ‘a pay raise.’”

They write:

Gunn’s proposal is to get rid of the individual income tax — which produces $1.7 billion of the state’s $5.6 billion in revenue — bit by bit beginning in 2016 until it vanishes a dozen years later. Unless — and you have to appreciate this caveat — unless state revenues do not increase by at least 3 percent the previous year. So it seems that unless the state not only finds a way to replace the lost income tax revenue but produces additional revenue as well, the taxpayers would have to go at least a year without “a pay raise.”
Public policy, especially public fiscal policy, should rest on a much firmer foundation.
Gunn’s proposal would be laughable, except that as speaker of the House, he has the wherewithal to pursue it.

The editorial continues: 

And if the lost revenue is not replaced, what gets cut? State funding for education? Transportation? Health care?
Mississippi can ill afford cuts to those and other areas that contribute to the well-being of its residents.
As for the “pay raise” argument, here are a few facts from the non-partisan Tax Foundation:

  • The residents of only 10 states have a smaller state and local tax burden than the residents of Mississippi.
  • It is the Tax Foundation that calculates the annual Tax Freedom Day, which represents how long Americans work into the year before they have earned enough money to pay all federal, state and local taxes for the year. For Mississippians, that occurred on March 29 last year — the earliest date for any state.
  • Mississippi’s “Business Tax Climate” was ranked the 17th best in the nation.

Those are all good positions for the state to be in and do not begin to justify Gunn’s ploy to be the biggest tax cutter — at least in theory — in the Capitol.

What do you think? Is Mississippi’s tax climate good enough and doesn’t need to be made better? Is this plan a good idea or is the phase-out of the income tax a “deceptive, unworkable, cruel ploy”?

Sound off in our comment section.


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MS House passes bill to phase-out state income tax

The Mississippi House has passed a plan to eliminate the state’s income tax as early as 2030 by a 83-32 vote.

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Epps pleads guilty to 2 counts in prison corruption case. 

The Sun Herald reports that Ex-Mississippi Department of Corrections head Chis Epps has pled guilty to 2 federal counts in corruption case.

He was indicted in November 2014 on 49 counts in the federal corruption case involving contracts for the prison system.

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WALTERS: See, We Told You So: Republicans Caving In On Important Issues

BY: Ryan S. Walters @ryanswalters73 | Mississippi Conservative Daily

Is there anything Republicans will stand up and fight for?

As we said repeatedly during the Senate campaign last year, Establishment Republicans will not stand up and fight for the values we, as true conservatives, hold dear. It was time for new leadership in Washington DC, and we backed a great candidate in Chris McDaniel, a man committed to true conservatism and itching to fight back against the Establishment.

Instead, with the illicit campaign conducted by the Cochran folks, we sent Mr. Establishment back to Washington for a 7th term. And what have we gotten for our return (or, I should say, his return)? More of the same: Nothing.

I raise this issue once again because of the news out of Washington today. In two headlines, we see that Republicans are “retreating” and “caving” on two important issues – amnesty and net neutrality.

It’s quite interesting that Harry Reid, who no longer runs the US Senate, still acts as though he does, mainly because the Republican leadership is as weak we all knew they were. Senate Democrats are holding Homeland Security funding hostage as a way to safeguard Obama’s illegal amnesty order. Republicans sought to pass a funding bill for DHS but with a provision to overturn the President’s order. Reid won’t have it, McConnell surrendered in due time, and now it seems Boehner will as well.

On the issue of net neutrality, it seems that Obama’s FCC is going to do its part in the “transformation of America” by enacting new Internet rules, and Republicans seem to beretreating on that front too. Net neutrality is essentially a regulated Internet, turning what is now a bastion of free speech and fair play into a system full of rules and regulations.

If you own and operate a website, you may even need a license just like a TV or radio station. And all the rules and regulations, admits members of both the FCC and FEC, may also make the web’s speed much slower, something more along the lines of what they have in Europe. Service providers will also have the right to charge customers more if they want the fastest speeds.

As Rush Limbaugh rightly said today, “Net neutrality is as honest a name as is the Affordable Care Act, or as was the Fairness Doctrine.  It’s just the latest left-wing power grab.” One Republican FCC commissioner said the “future of the internet is at stake” with this plan.

Unbelievable isn’t it? Ted Cruz and Mike Lee desperately needed reinforcements in the Senate to stop this kind of stuff. How nice it would have been to have US Senator Chris McDaniel fighting for our freedoms in Washington.

Instead, we have, not one, but two Senators from Mississippi, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum, who are the two biggest go-alongs in DC.

And all the while Obama’s transformation marches on!

One thing is for sure, I never EVER want to be in a foxhole with any of these Establishment Republicans! And if we don’t wake up soon, we won’t have a free country any longer!

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Educational Savings Account bills getting closer scrutiny in Legislature. 

Mississippi has taken the first step in passing a bill to create an education savings account program for special needs students.

Both the House and Senate in the state have passed similar versions of a bill that would set up state funded education savings accounts. For either bill to become law, it must pass in the other legislative chamber before being signed by Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant. Mississippi would then become the third state – after Arizona and Florida – to establish an education savings account program.

Matt Frendeway of the American Federation for Children says the legislature narrowly missed passing such a bill last year.

“Unfortunately, a couple of legislators didn’t see the wisdom in it and backed down at the last moment,” he tells OneNewsNow. “But we have seen momentum grow on the side of children in Mississippi. We’ve seen parents rise up and speak up about the importance of offering these opportunities to families.”

Not only in Mississippi, but nationally, people are seeing the opportunities school choice presents. 

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Speaker Gunn will announce proposal for $1.7 billion phaseout of personal income tax.

In a game of escalating tax-cut proposals, House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, will propose the biggest so far: a $1.7 billion phaseout of Mississippi’s state personal income tax over more than a decade, a top legislator said late Monday.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, confirmed Monday that he plans to bring forward the proposal in his committee Tuesday.

Smith said Gunn will have a news conference following the committee meeting to advocate for the plan. Gunn declined comment Monday night through his chief of staff, Nathan Wells.

Gunn’s plan could shift this year’s debate away from business tax cuts, after lawmakers have enacted more than $350 million in business tax relief since 2012.

The move raises the bidding in Republicans’ election-year efforts to reduce taxes, even as advocates for education and other state services seek more money. The amount in question is more than a quarter of the current $6.1 billion in state money in Mississippi’s budget this year.

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PLUNKETT: Reeves #CommonCore shell game backfires.

BY: B. Keith Plunkett @Keithplunkett

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves election year political attempts to claim part of “his” agenda in the Mississippi Senate was successful, to end Common Core, continues to be dismissed by those on both sides of the issue.

Immediately following passage of SB 2161, the bill Reeves claimed ended Common Core, state Supt. Carey Wright was quoted as saying the bill did nothing to stop the federally mandated curriculum, and last week the MS Dept of Education began the process of reapplying for the ESEA waiver for the next three years. The ESEA waiver is handed out by the federal government with the stipulation that MDE must institute Common Core.

On Friday the New Albany Gazette Editorial board described how the Senate “wisely backed away” from creating new standards:

The Mississippi Senate has wisely backed away from insisting that the state Board of Education adopt educational standards to be developed by a 27-member board created by the Legislature.

On a 17-13 vote the Senate defeated a Tea-Party supported proposal that would have prevented the state board from continuing with the Common Core academic standards, called the Mississippi College and Career Readiness Standards.

Common Core opposition on social media have also disputed the claims the bill ends Common Core. These opponents showed massive support for the defeated amendment.

Reeves attempted to sell it as a political victory anyway.

“With this bill, we can end Common Core, we can end our connection to PARCC, and we can draft our own strong standards for the classroom,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said in a Feb 12 statement. “I am proud the Senate passed the only bill that can lead to the end of Common Core, and I appreciate the 28 Republicans and three Democrats that joined us to make that happen.”

Regardless of where one falls on the issue of Common Core, the level of disrespect Reeves has shown the Mississippi voters is breathtaking.

Reeves was for Common Core, even holding a rally in support of it in 2013, until he realized the political winds were blowing in a different direction. He thought browbeating the support of some of the members of the Conservative Coalition would gain him some political points with the anti-Common Core crowd, announcing some of the Senators had signed a letter “endorsing” him.

But the parents and educators who fight Common Core are not so easily toyed with. Sen. Angela Hill has toured the state publicly condemning Common Core for over a year, yet her willingness to endorse Reeves has done nothing to turn the tide against the bill he claims defeated Common Core. In fact, it is Hill who is now fighting to explain her support of Reeves and this shell game.

Common Core is easily the hottest issue in conservative politics in Mississippi in the past year. That Reeves would attempt to gain politically from it is really no surprise. That there are those who thought they could raise their own political capital by playing the game comes as little surprise either.

However, the fact that any of them thought they could use it to their advantage without actually doing what they said they would do shows a level of ego and ambition that made them blind to reality.

Now, what Reeves obviously had hoped would quiet calls for a challenger, have only made the chorus louder.

Political games don’t work as well when people refuse to be played as fools, and the opponents of Common Core know this issue inside-out.

Reeves and the others caught up in this are playing an old game. But the rules changed a long time ago. Political personalities aren’t so important when people are tuned in to issues. As I have written about Reeves, the same holds true for others. The people welcome a statement of support. But actions must align.

It’s a new order in conservative politics in Mississippi. Principles matter. The sooner politicians recognize that the better.

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PENDER: Education politics grow more absurd

BY: Geoff Pender

But Mississippi’s program is underfunded.

Of course it’s underfunded. Look around. Everything in Mississippi is underfunded.

That’s been the rallying cry — justifiably so, in most cases — around Mississippi’s public education system for decades, and it will continue to be for more. But it’s also become a crutch and a political football. And in this case, it’s a little more spurious than others.

Superintendents and lawmakers pushing to delay teaching third-graders to read before passing them to fourth point to Florida and have repeatedly said the Sunshine State has spent $1 billion on its program, while Mississippi is only spending $15 million.

Florida, which has nearly six times as many students as Mississippi, funded its program at $10 million the first year. But its schools shifted other money and resources around to help start it. Contrary to what has been said in legislative floor debate in Mississippi, Florida has never fully funded reading coaches for all its schools. It started the program by first focusing resources on the worst schools, as is the plan here.

For Mississippi to match, per capita, Florida’s literacy promotion program, we’d have to spend $25 million a year. We’re at $15 million. That goal is attainable. State agencies spend $30 million to $40 million in travel to conferences and seminars — I’m just saying.

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