From the Desk of Kelly Riley, MPE Executive Director
It is early November as I write this message. I saw my first Christmas ad in early October in the midst of campaign ads. As I get older, it seems each year passes more quickly than the one before. In reflecting on MPE activities in 2019, several highlights come to mind:
Gerry Brooks and Marshall Ramsey highlighted our 2019 Best Practices Symposium in March. More than 300 educators enjoyed this wonderful day of learning, networking, and laughing! Symposium provided the perfect boost for those in attendance to finish the school year on a strong note.
We provided several resources to our members for their reference in making informed decisions during this year’s elections. Our board met with three of the four major candidates for Governor, as well as the two major candidates for Lt. Governor, at its annual planning retreat in June. We also published our Find Your Voice: MPE’s Legislative Advocacy Guide for Educators which shares resources and best practices for Mississippi educators in advocating for students and educators throughout our state. It is available via the “Quick Links” section of our website.
As sponsor of the Mississippi NBCT Network, MPE facilitated the network’s first annual Learn and Lead Conference on November 2. Over 50 NBCTs from around the state attended. Peggy Brookins, NBCT, President and CEO of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, provided our keynote. See page 11 for more on this exciting day!
As 2019 comes to a close, it is time to focus on the 2020 Regular Session of the Mississippi Legislature. It is critical that educators and public education supporters hold elected officials accountable for their campaign promises, especially when it comes to education funding and teacher compensation. I anticipate that Education Scholarship Accounts (i.e., vouchers) will be a hot topic this session, as the program’s enabling legislation expires June 30, 2020. I also anticipate we will see a significant number of bills regarding testing. See page 20 for resources you may use in advocating for your students with legislators throughout the session.
As the number of charter schools in Mississippi has increased over the past few years, I have received more and more questions from MPE members regarding charter operations. Please see pages 12-14 for some of the most frequently asked questions. While charters are described as public schools, the article explains several differences between Mississippi’s traditional public schools and charters.
As always, we honor and celebrate a number of our members’ accomplishments in our “Member Spotlight” you will find on pages 16, 21, and 22. Be sure to see our “Save the Date” reminder on page 23 for our April 4, 2020, Best Practices Symposium featuring Dr. Todd Whitaker. Registration will open for MPE members in January and non-members may register in March if space allows.
MPE has had much to be thankful for in 2019. We appreciate our nearly 14,000 members throughout the state who are committed to their students. I appreciate our incredible MPE team – from our Board of Directors to the incredible staff I have the privilege of working with each day. In the final days of 2019, I hope you will take some time to rest, to reflect, and to prepare for a wonderful 2020. May the blessings of the season fill your heart!