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Mississippi legislators have proposed dozens of bills aimed at improving or reforming education in the state ahead of the mid-January deadline for submitting legislation. While some of these are broader and deal with topics like elected superintendents or failing school districts, others dig into smaller, specific aspects of education. Here’s a look at some of this year’s education bills that have been sent to the House and Senate education committees:

Home economics in failing districts: House Bill No. 195 would require all secondary schools located in D- and F-rated school districts to teach home economics to students, based on a curriculum that would be developed by the state Board of Education. Topics would include cooking, child development, sewing and budgeting.

Mandatory kindergarten: Senate Bill 2068 would require 5-year-old children to attend kindergarten. Only 15 states and Washington D.C. require kindergarten attendance.

Shorten the school year: Students would attend school for 170 days instead of 180 days each year if House Bill 211 passes the legislature and is signed by the governor.

Seclusion and restraint limitations: The Mississippi Student Safety Act would provide “minimum standards” to prohibit school officials from using certain student restraint and seclusion procedures. For example, a student in an “exclusion time-out” would have to be supervised at all times, could not be in a room with a locked door, and could not be in time-out for longer than an hour.

Daily school prayer “reflection time”: House Bill No. 201 would require schools to provide a “period of reflection” at the beginning of each school day so students can voluntarily participate in prayer.

 Pledge of Allegiance fine: Schools would receive a $1,500 fine if they fail to recite the Pledge of Allegiance within the first hour of class each day, according to House Bill No. 205.

Required writing curriculum: House Bill No. 196 would require the state Board of Education to create a manuscript handwriting curriculum that each school district would adopt.

School board qualifications: All members of local school boards who are elected to office must have completed at least one year of postsecondary education at an accredited college or university under Senate Bill 2037.

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Jackie Mader is multimedia editor. She has covered preK-12 education and teacher preparation nationwide, with a focus on the rural south. Her work has appeared in the The Denver Post, the Sun Herald and...

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