Wednesday, January 4, 2017  SUBSCRIBE   
Kids' favorite Daniel Tiger makes the MSU Riley Center his neighborhood
Little ones will delight in seeing Daniel Tiger and his friends singing and dancing on stage as the MSU Riley Center presents its latest Family Show, "Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood" on Jan. 26, at 7 p.m. This live musical version of the animated PBS TV series of the same name is aimed at preschoolers ages 2 through 4. It stars the 4-year-old Daniel Tiger and his friends O the Owl, Katerina Kittycat, Miss Elaina and Prince Wednesday. They explore the Neighborhood of Make-Believe with the help of Trolley. They share some laughs and some serious moments as they learn practical skills and strategies for growing up and learning. The show sprang from the beloved children's series "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood."
Jenny Turner undecided on additional Starkville-Oktibbeha school board term
Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District Board of Trustees President Jenny Turner said she has not yet decided between seeking a second term on the school board or stepping away from her seat, which expires in March. Her seat is one of three appointed by Starkville aldermen, and the board is expected to set Feb. 15 as the deadline for public letters of interest for the position during Tuesday's 5:30 p.m. meeting. Turner, whose son will graduate from Starkville High School this May, first hinted at her potential departure in September when SOCSD Trustee Anne Stricklin said she would stay in her position through the new year after her husband, Scott, was selected as the University of Florida's athletic director. Turner confirmed Monday she still has not made a decision about her school board future and will continue debating the issue as February approaches.
Police, fire departments in Golden Triangle see quiet holiday season
Local fire and law enforcement officials are reporting a quiet Christmas and New Year's holiday period. Mississippi Highway Patrol released enforcement numbers for the New Year's travel period, which ran from 6 p.m. New Year's Eve to midnight of Jan. 2. MHP's Troop G, which includes Clay, Lowndes and Oktibbeha counties, issued 241 citations, including three for driving under the influence and one drug arrest. MHP Master Sgt. Criss Turnipseed said the period was quiet, which could be because the holiday fell on a weekend. Both Columbus and Starkville police departments also reported relatively quiet holiday periods. In Starkville, police are investigating two armed robbery cases. One case happened on Dec. 28 in the parking lot of Dollar General on North Jackson Street. Another occurred in an apartment complex on Locksley Way. Starkville Police Chief Frank Nichols said the department is still investigating the incidents. He said they were the only major incidents to happen in the holiday period, which fell in line with expectations.
MBJ Business Person of the Year: Joe Max Higgins of the Golden Triangle's LINK
What? You haven't heard of the Golden Triangle of Mississippi? Then you just moved here. Or maybe you don't believe in miracles. Or maybe you don't watch PBS or read the Atlantic. That's understandable, because those are not mass audience markets. But surely you caught "60 Minutes" Dec. 4 on CBS. Or at least heard about it. It was all about an oasis of American advanced manufacturing. And it was mainly about Joe Max Higgins, the leader of the LINK, which is the economic development engine for the Golden Triangle. The area defined by Columbus, Starkville and West Point began making a name for itself after 2004, when it landed the first TVA megasite.
Southern states bracing for potential of snow, sleet, ice
Forecasters say a winter storm system could blanket much of the South with a wintry mix of rain, sleet and snow from Texas all the way east to the Carolinas. Even parts of the deep South -- including Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama -- were bracing for the possibility of snow by Friday. There's a chance of snow after 7 p.m. Friday, according to the National Weather Service. The chance of precipitation is 50 percent. There's a 40 percent chance of snow Saturday morning, mainly before 7 followed by sunny conditions.
NWS: Mississippi hit by tornadoes; wintry mix coming
The storm systems that surged through Mississippi Monday are ushering in more wintry weather that will be here by Friday, meteorologists said. National Weather Service meteorologist Ed Tarver said Tuesday's temperatures in the 70s would give way to lows in the 40s overnight, and Wednesday should bring highs in the 50s. By Friday, there's even a chance of some wintry mix, and the Friday night low could be in the 20s, Tarver said. The wintry precipitation, if there is any, should fall during the weekend, but it's possible the cold weather will last well into next week. National Weather Service survey teams were on the ground Tuesday in at least three Mississippi counties after tornadoes blew through the south central part of the state ahead of the cold front.
Mississippi New York Picnic canceled -- forever
A gathering of Mississippians living in New York has been canceled for the second year in a row, and this time, festival organizers say they have no plans to move forward. The annual Mississippi Picnic, held in New York's Central Park and hosted by The New York Mississippi Society, has been canceled -- for good. The society posted the following message on their website: "The 36 years of the Mississippi Picnics has been wonderful and a positive thing for all those involved but with the competition of funding sources and the rising costs and complexity of putting this event together, The New York Society regrets to announce that there are no plans for any future picnics."
Gulfport chooses consultant to lead aquarium development
Gulfport officials have chosen the company that will develop and manage the city's planned aquarium. The City Council approved the selection of David Kimmel and Kimmel Management Services, a Georgia-based company, for the job. Kimmel will serve as the aquarium consultant, providing development and project management services, along with operational planning through the pre-opening phase of the project. He was chosen from five proposals the city received since announcing the position in August. The aquarium, an $80 million project, will be built across U.S. 90 from Jones Park. It will feature exhibits focusing on the Mississippi Sound, the Gulf of Mexico and beyond. It will have a flexible exhibit space and offer supplemental programs. It is set to open in early 2019.
Legislators tout state's 200th birthday
Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, told House members Tuesday -- the opening of the annual session -- they are privileged to be serving during Mississippi's bicentennial year, and he hopes in 100 years that legislators will look back and say "that bunch in 2017 did a good job." Gunn, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate, and Katie Blount, executive director of the state Department of Archives and History, hosted a news conference Tuesday at the Capitol to tout the activities planned around the celebration of Mississippi's 200th year of statehood. The big event is the scheduled opening in December of the state's Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, which will share a lobby and gift shop areas near downtown Jackson.
'Stop apologizing, start bragging' is opening day theme in Jackson
Celebrating Mississippi was the main message from top lawmakers on the first day of the Legislature's 132nd session, which focused on the state's bicentennial. Two of those Republican leaders, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn, reflected on the anniversary and said they were excited about the state's future. Mississippi was officially granted statehood on Dec. 10, 1817. "We are able to shape the future of this state. We have been entrusted with a great responsibility," Gunn, from Clinton, said of his role as a legislator. Reeves noted that the state was home to literary legends, sports heroes and scientific breakthroughs, achievements the state should celebrate. "I believe strongly that in many instances we need to stop apologizing and start bragging about Mississippi's many great accomplishments," Reeves said. "I think this celebration of our bicentennial is an opportunity to do just that."
First bills filed cover ATVs to venomous snakes
The first bills of the 2017 Mississippi legislative session have been filed, and they run the gamut of issues from all terrain vehicles to venomous snakes. Some are old friends, perennially filed over many years and never passed into law, such as a bill by Rep. Tom Weathersby, R-Florence, to allow sheriffs' departments to use radars on speeding motorists, or Rep. Alyce Clarke's bill to create a state lottery. Clarke, D-Jackson, has filed such a bill each session for years to no avail. But this year, Gov. Phil Bryant and other leaders said they are willing to at least entertain discussion and debate of a state lottery. Some deal with important, potentially contentious issues, such as Rep. David Baria's House Bill 9, the "Evelyn Gandy Fair Pay Act," to promote equal pay for women, or bills to route state money to Jackson to help repair its crumbling infrastructure.
Campaign finance high on agenda for session
Legislators, stinging from criticism they received during the 2016 session for their inability to pass campaign finance reform, no doubt will place a priority on the issue during the 2017 session, starting at noon today. Both Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate, and House Speaker Philip Gunn said in separate, recent interviews that passing legislation dealing with campaign finance will be a top priority. There will be multiple controversial and impactful bills considered during the scheduled 90-day session, but campaign finance will be a priority after the embarrassment of the 2016 session where the House leadership could not garner the votes to pass a campaign finance proposal. "Campaign finance is something we would like to see passed," Gunn said recently.
School funding rewrite will dominate 2017 session
The top education issue facing legislators this session is whether to rewrite the formula for state financing of public schools. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), adopted in 1997, calculates how much money is required each year for public school students to receive an adequate education. The formula has only been fully funded twice by the Legislature since becoming law, a fact opponents of a rewrite point to as evidence there's no need to change the formula. For Fiscal Year 2017, which began July 1, the state appropriated $2.52 billion for education. The Parents Campaign estimates that number was $172 million less than the MAEP formula called for.
Education supes air concerns over MAEP for 2017 legislative session
Republican leaders want to rewrite the state's education funding formula to put more money into the classroom and less into administrative expenses, but that has local superintendents concerned. Thriving in ambiguity is what the superintendents are hoping to achieve given the possibility the funding formula will be revamped during the 2017 legislative session. Both Philadelphia and Neshoba County school officials are hoping the Legislature gives a timely notice should the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) formula be changed before school districts begin their budgeting processes. Republican Rep. C. Scott Bounds said the MAEP formula is almost unattainable despite the formula being fully funded twice since it was enacted nearly 20 years ago. "We want a more student-based funding," Bounds said.
Back in session: School superintendents get attention on opening day
Issues surrounding school superintendents highlighted Tuesday -- the opening day of the 2017 session of the Mississippi Legislature. The House Education Committee passed "a technical" change to the legislation passed in 2016 that makes all school superintendents appointed by January 2019. The change passed Tuesday by the House Education Committee would allow the local school board to forgo an election and appoint a replacement if there is a vacancy in a post currently occupied by an elected superintendent. House Education Chair John Moore, R-Brandon, said the bill is needed because Webster County Superintendent Jack Treloar stepped down effective Dec. 31. Unless current law is changed, Moore said Webster County will have to hold a special election, costing $60,000, to replace him for the remaining two years of the term.
Mississippi legislators expect school debate
Mississippi legislators started their 2017 session Tuesday, and their main focus during the next three months could be trying to adopt a new school funding formula. The current formula, called the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, was put into law 20 years ago but has been fully funded only twice. Legislators hired a New Jersey-based consulting group, EdBuild, to recommend changes. EdBuild CEO Rebecca Sibilia says she doesn't anticipate recommending a reduction in spending. But any changes would cause losses for some school districts and gains for others, unless lawmakers find money to increase total spending. Legislators this session could also consider ways to put millions more dollars into highways and bridges amid pressure from business groups that say unsafe infrastructure is an economic drag.
Mississippi Trade Mart changes on hand in 2017
A change of landscape is on the horizon at the Mississippi State Fairgrounds. The last $10 million of a $30 million bond bill should be issued this year. The facelift will include tearing down the Trade Mart to make room for bigger and better trade shows in the Capitol City. Mississippi Department of Agriculture Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith says a new trade mart will be attached to the Coliseum, offering 40,000 more square feet of space for events. Groundbreaking for construction is set for the fall.
Republicans embrace Amtrak's Gulf Coast rebirth
A decade after Hurricane Katrina wiped out a long stretch of Amtrak's transcontinental passenger route in the Deep South, the railroad is plotting to bring it back. And it's attracted a seemingly unlikely group of cheerleaders: red-state Republicans. For Amtrak, extending the City of New Orleans line from Louisiana to Orlando, Fla., is a chance to demonstrate that its traditionally money-losing long-distance routes deserve Congress' investment. It could also mark a shift in some Republicans' attitudes toward Amtrak, after decades of GOP leaders in Washington trying to slash the passenger rail's funding and force it to dump unprofitable routes. Now local and state Republican leaders along the Gulf Coast are promoting a revived Amtrak route as a tool for commerce and jobs. "I think we can make Amtrak work," said Republican Mississippi Sen. Roger Wicker. "We can make it more friendly to the taxpayer, and more efficient, but I think we need Amtrak, and I'll just say it."
House GOP scraps plan to gut ethics watchdog after emergency meeting
House Republicans abruptly withdrew a proposal to weaken an independent ethics watchdog on Tuesday, in a rocky start to the new Congress. The 115th session hadn't even formally gaveled in before House GOP leaders held an emergency conference meeting to discuss blowback against the party's vote to gut the chamber's independent ethics watchdog. The reversal of course came hours after President-elect Donald Trump issued a series of tweets questioning the timing of the changes, which would put the independent Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) under oversight of the House Ethics Committee. Republicans acknowledged that the effort to gut OCE on the first day of the new Congress backfired badly.
Donald Trump's picks for TVA board could reshape federal agency
One third of the board that governs the Tennessee Valley Authority is being vacated Tuesday after the Republican-controlled Senate failed last year to confirm President Barack Obama's reappointment of three Democratic directors for America's biggest government-owned utility. TVA Chairman Joe Ritch and the chairmen of two key board committees, Peter Mahurin and Mike McWherter, leave the TVA board today after they helped revamp the leadership and generation mix of TVA over the past five years. Although major customer groups and even Tennessee's Republican senators said they support the current direction of TVA, incoming President Donald Trump will soon have a chance to name new directors for TVA who could reshape the federal agency created as part of President Roosevelt's New Deal in 1933. Combined with two additional board vacancies this year, Trump could appoint a majority of the nine-member TVA board as soon as May 18.
Oxford's Richard Howorth remains on TVA board; Trump could re-shape agency
Within the next five months, President-elect Donald Trump could appoint a majority of the board for the Tennessee Valley Authority, the nation's largest government-owned utility. TVA serves the Oxford area, and businessman and former Mayor Richard Howorth remains a member of the TVA board until 2020. n his second term, Howorth was appointed to the TVA board by Democratic President Barack Obama 2011 and re-appointed in 2015, with nomination support from Mississippi Republican legislative leaders Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran. Three Democratic members of the board, including Chairman Joe Ritch, are leaving the board Tuesday after the Republican-controlled Senate failed last year to confirm President Barack Obama's reappointment of the three directors. Howorth said the TVA board's political diversity has been an asset.
Why does the religious make-up of Congress look different than America's?
Even as the percentage of Americans who claim no religious identification has risen to nearly a quarter of the population, 91 percent of representatives in the current Congress self-identify as Christian -- about the same amount as in 1961 -- according to an annual analysis from the Pew Research Center. That doesn't mean the religious composition of Congress hasn't changed at all: the share of Catholics has climbed substantially, from 19 in 1961 to 31 percent today, while the share of Protestants has fallen, from 75 to 56 percent, over the decades. And while the share of Jews has remained roughly the same since the early 1980s, more Buddhist, Mormon, and Muslim politicians have now been elected to Congress, in proportions that more or less reflect those of the general public.
Alabama space explorers await Donald Trump's move
Donald Trump has only hinted at the future of NASA. But his campaign suggestions -- more deep space exploration, less Earth science -- seem to bode well for Alabama and for Marshall Space Flight Center. The center's 6,000-person workforce is a key part of Huntsville's economy. And deep space exploration plays to Marshall's strengths as NASA's propulsion center and manager of the Space Launch System (SLS), the new rocket capable of going beyond Earth orbit to deep space. NASA employees here say they heard the question often over the holidays: "How do you feel about Trump?" One employee's answer seemed to stand out: "We're certainly better positioned than last time."
Suspects in College Board member Tommy Duff murder plot denied bond at hearing
Two men charged in a plot to kill state College Board member Tommy Duff were once again denied bond, this time at their preliminary hearings. Howard Darron Cameron, 47, of Biloxi and Glen Denard Evans, 46, of Gulfport appeared before Justice Court Judge Denton Plumlee on Tuesday for their preliminary hearings. In addition to denying bond, Plumlee ordered the case bound over to the grand jury. Victor Albert Mitchell, 42, of Sumrall also was charged in the incident. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday. The three men are charged with conspiracy to commit murder; attempted extortion; conspiracy to commit extortion; attempted sexual battery; conspiracy to commit sexual battery; attempted kidnapping; and conspiracy to kidnap Duff. The affidavit says the men planned to kidnap Duff and "create a video of Tommy Duff and threatened to make the video public for the purpose of embarrassing Tommy Duff in an attempt to obtain money."
Lance Yarbrough rejoins Geological Engineering faculty at Ole Miss
Lance David Yabrough helped build a successful business before he joined the University of Mississippi School of Engineering faculty earlier this year. Still, the newest assistant professor of geology and geological engineering was eager to come aboard. "I had been an adjunct associate professor with the department for more than a year while I was part of a small business technology startup in Vicksburg," said Yarbrough, who earned both his master's and doctoral degrees from UM. Before returning to his alma mater to teach, Yabrough was technical director of geospatial solutions for Crosstek Solutions LLC in Vicksburg. He was also principal engineer for Delta Engineering Solutions LLC in Vicksburg.
Upon turning 50, USM's Nursing College moves to state-of-the-art home
The opening of University of Southern Mississippi's Asbury Hall for classes Jan. 17 gives USM a leading role in a strategy by which Mississippi has more than doubled its nursing school graduates since the start of the previous decade. USM's college of Nursing already accounts for 23.55 percent of nursing baccalaureate degrees awarded in the state, followed by Mississippi College (18.3 percent) and Mississippi University for Women (16.45 percent). The elongated, 81,000 square foot, three-floor building on the western edge of the Hattiesburg campus ensures the College of Nursing can sustain enrollment growth of well over 50 percent that began at start of the decade, said Dr. Katherine Nugent, who has been the college's dean since 2004.
USM President Rodney Bennett Speaks In Columbus
Education is key to a child's future; that's the message from University of Southern Mississippi President Dr. Rodney Bennett. Bennett talked to the Columbus Rotary Club on Tuesday afternoon. He says children in the state must have a quality education. Then he discussed the number of north Mississippians enrolled at the Hattiesburg-based university. Bennett says the numbers have been declining over the last decade, but an aggressive recruitment strategy will soon be in place. "There are eight excellent public universities in the state of Mississippi, and the University of Southern Mississippi is certainly a competitive institution that wants students from every part of the state to look at us, to choose Southern Miss," said Bennett.
Brookhaven High queen still reigns supreme at USM
Before Imani Quinn was stretching strength bands, she was toting a tuba, shaking her pom poms and wearing a crown -- three of them, in fact. The busy 19-year-old Brookhaven native is studying kinesiotherapy during her sophomore year at University of Southern Miss. And although her studies were just as important at Brookhaven High School as they are now, she found time for plenty of extracurricular activities. The daughter of Audrey Washington and Kelvin Quinn was named homecoming queen, prom queen and Miss BHS during her senior year. Quinn is set to graduate in 2019, but she may wait just to take extra classes for physical therapy school.
Southern Miss Named to Best Online Teaching Degree List for 2016
The University of Southern Mississippi College of Education and Psychology's fully online Teacher Assistant Program (TAP) earned the 5th position on the list of Best Online Teaching Degrees for 2016. Affordable Colleges Online, a leader in higher education data and information, generated the ranking by analyzing cost and quality metrics across thousands of U.S. colleges with online teaching degree options. The online TAP program meets the unique educational needs of teacher assistants who desire to advance their knowledge and skills and become exemplary, licensed teachers. Students enrolled in the TAP program have the opportunity to complete all or part of their bachelor's degree coursework online with highly qualified and dedicated university faculty.
IHL seeks nominations for Jackson State president search committee
The Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning has set a Jan. 17 deadline for nominations for the search advisory committee for a new Jackson State University president. Last October, former university President Carolyn Meyers resigned. On Nov. 7, former U.S. Secretary of Education, Dr. Rod Paige, was named interim president. In a press release, the IHL board said it is seeking nominations for student, alumni, faculty, staff and community representatives for the search committee. Both self-nominations and nominations of fellow members of the JSU campus community are encouraged, the board said.
JSU one of only four HBCU's ranked among top 200 research universities in the country
When it comes to federal research expenditures, Jackson State University is one of only four Historically Black Colleges and Universities listed by The Center for Measuring University Performances' top 200 research universities in the country. A joint venture between Arizona State University and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, The Center is designed to track research productivity across the United States. "Jackson State University's inclusion as one of the top 200 universities in the country for federal research expenditures shows the high level of productivity that comes from our brilliant faculty and staff. We are honored by this achievement which is only a glimpse of the success that emanates from our great institution," said Dr. Rod Paige, JSU interim-president.
Auburn U. sees start of nine construction projects in 2016
Construction has become a common sight at the Auburn University campus, and 2016 was no exception. One project on campus was completed this year: the Auburn Memorial, a display near the President's Mansion to honor students, faculty, staff and alumni who have passed away, according to Auburn University. The memorial cost $1.25 million to build. Eight other projects began or continued construction in 2016. Most are expected to be completed in 2017.
Former Facebook exec donates $20 million to Vanderbilt U.
Jeffrey Rothschild was a student at Vanderbilt University when he discovered his passion for computer programming. That discovery would go on to shape his future and transform the landscape of the tech world. Now, Rothschild wants to spur similar discoveries for new generations of Vanderbilt students. So the former Facebook executive and his wife, Marieke Rothschild, donated $20 million to support the university's construction of new residence halls and common areas, the university announced this month. Vanderbilt's "college hall" projects are modeled after the Martha Rivers Ingram Commons, a hub for freshmen that opened in 2008, including a cluster of dorm buildings, a dining hall and a student center. Students studying different topics live together with professors who help design extracurricular programming for the cluster, which administrators say encourages creative thinking and collaboration.
Immigrants who challenged Georgia's in-state tuition policy win case
A judge says the Georgia university system must allow immigrants to pay in-state tuition if they've been granted temporary permission by the federal government to stay in the U.S. Georgia's state colleges and universities require verification of "lawful presence" in the U.S. for in-state tuition. The Board of Regents had said students with temporary permission to stay under a 2012 program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, didn't meet that requirement. A lawyer for 10 young immigrants who meet all the other requirements and who have been granted deferred action status argued in a petition filed in April that the federal Department of Homeland Security has said people who have qualified for the program are "lawfully present." University system spokesman Charles Sutlive had no immediate comment on Tuesday.
Bias training aims to improve U. of Missouri executive, department searches
Everyone has biases, whether we know it or not. Some are good, some are bad, but we all have them. They make us who we are. But sometimes these biases can stand in the way of improvement. In searches for a more diverse University of Missouri faculty and staff, bias training is meant to change this. For a year now, MU has required an unconscious bias training module for everyone involved in selecting candidates for faculty and academic positions within each college and the university as a whole. The training is used for searches both big and small, ranging from searches for high-ranking leadership positions to specific faculty positions within a certain college or department. The training is important when dealing with the many interim positions in MU's leadership.
Campus financial aid offices sort through income discrepancies
Jennifer Buckles, the director of financial aid at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, has seen about 2 percent of federal student aid applications filed this academic year by returning and incoming students at the campus flagged for changes in income data already filed with the federal government. It's a small number, but with more than 14,000 copies of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid filed by the university's students so far, that means several hundred financial aid flags that her department must sort through. And with many returning students having yet to file an updated financial aid application, Buckles's office could be staring down even more of those flags. It's a problem affecting financial aid offices at campuses across the company to varying degrees. And it arises out of an attempt by the Department of Education to significantly streamline and accelerate the financial aid process for students this year.
More than 1,100 law school professors nationwide oppose Jeff Sessions's nomination as attorney general
A group of more than 1,100 law school professors from across the country is sending a letter to Congress on Tuesday urging the Senate to reject the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) for attorney general. The letter, signed by professors from 170 law schools in 48 states, is also scheduled to run as a full-page newspaper ad aimed at members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will be holding confirmation hearings for Sessions on Jan. 10-11. The professors -- from every state except North Dakota and Alaska, which has no law school -- highlight the rejection of Sessions's nomination to a federal judgeship more than 30 years ago. Sessions's former chief counsel William Smith, who is African American, has said that people who call Sessions racially insensitive are "just lying. And they should stop the smear campaign."
Molly Broad to retire as head of main college lobbying group
Molly Corbett Broad, who in nine years as president of the American Council on Education has focused the college presidents' association on driving technological and other change in higher education, will retire in October, ACE announced Tuesday. Broad, the first woman to run the chief college lobbying group, led it during a period of financial strain and intense government scrutiny for higher education. During her time there, the council opposed major efforts by the Obama administration to impose a college rating system and to increase the federal regulatory footprint in higher education. But Broad's own interests ran less to the council's historic priorities of policy making and governance and more toward trendier topics such as technological innovation and change -- often in ways that drew criticism.
Cuomo Proposes Free Tuition at New York State Colleges for Eligible Students
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo seized on a potent issue that energized younger Democrats during the presidential race, pledging on Tuesday to cover tuition costs at state colleges for hundreds of thousands of middle-and low-income New Yorkers. Under the governor's plan, college students who have been accepted to a state or city university in New York -- including two-year community colleges -- would be eligible, provided they or their family earn $125,000 or less a year. Mr. Cuomo, a Democratic centrist thought to have presidential ambitions, has tracked left on a series of issues during his second term, championing a higher minimum wage and paid family leave, though he continues to face criticism from some progressive groups over sometimes working closely with Senate Republicans. If Mr. Cuomo's proposal goes forward, it will place New York at the forefront of such efforts; Tennessee and Oregon have programs to cover the costs of community college.
Nation's Schools Get Middling Grade on Quality Counts Report Card
As a new political and policy era dawns in Washington, the status of the nation's schools remains stable, though still earning a grade of C from Quality Counts 2017, the 21st annual report card issued by the Education Week Research Center. The C corresponds to a score of 74.2, which is nearly identical to the 74.4 the nation posted in 2016, when it also received a C. The steadiness of national results, notwithstanding, a handful of states saw their scores increase or decline by a full point or more. Quality Counts grades the states and the nation on educational performance across a range of key indicators, issuing overall A-F grades based on a traditional 100-point scale.
More Chinese Are Sending Younger Children to Schools in U.S.
When Ken Yan's parents were contemplating his future, they decided the best option for the 11-year-old was to send him 7,000 miles away from his home in China to Southern California. In their quest for a U.S. education, more Chinese families are sending their children to America---and at younger ages. The number of Chinese students at elementary schools surged from 500 in 2011 to 2,450 in 2015, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Over the same period, the number of Chinese nationals attending secondary schools in the U.S. jumped from 17,914 to 46,028. Those numbers pale compared with the tens of thousands of Chinese students enrolled at U.S. universities, but are expected to soar in the next few years.
Schools and slush funds could be top topics this session
Longtime Mississippi journalist Charlie Mitchell writes: "It will be a short session, only 90 days. Mississippi lawmakers will be back home while the azaleas are still in bloom, at least in some parts of the state. What will make headlines? No one every really knows for sure, but K-12 education is a safe bet. House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, says he wants to talk about campaign finance reform a bit more, too. ... Three months ago, legislative leaders signed a contract (which wasn't secret, then it was, then it wasn't again) with EdBuild, a new consulting firm that studies school funding methodologies. The gist is that the leadership wants to explore alternatives to the Mississippi Adequate Education Program's formula, set into law 20 years ago and provided with full funding only twice. ...Formulas aside, K-12 education has steadily received more and more millions while, in the big picture, lawmakers and the public have been less and less satisfied with results."
Quick, enjoy the holidays, the Legislature is about to convene
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal's Bobby Harrison writes: "Oh the irony is rich that the sanctity and celebration of the holiday season is followed by the onset of the Mississippi legislative session. We have this wonderful season that represents hope, a new beginning, not to get too deep, but a new covenant for the world, followed by the Mississippi Legislature, which represents all the fallacies and complexities of the world. ...Since December of 1995 -- I cannot believe that was more than 20 years ago -- the Christmas season and the beginning of the Mississippi legislative session have been closely linked for me."
Budget woes add to fight over BP money
Syndicated columnist Sid Salter writes: "The legislative battle over the ultimate distribution of some $750 million in economic damages from the BP oil spill settlement was always going to be heated and contentious. That's the nature of legislative battles that center on sectionalism and factionalism -- and what can be more sectional or factional than arguing over whether upstate counties are entitled to a portion of economic damages from an industrial disaster that took place in the Gulf of Mexico? Given that reality, the state's declining revenue stream rather sets that battle in concrete. Upstate lawmakers not only want a portion of those funds, they will argue that they (and their constituents) need and deserve it as well."

Mississippi State women keep climbing higher
The Dispatch's Adam Minichino writes: "Part of having a veteran team is not being surprised. You can hear the confidence every time Mississippi State women's basketball coach Vic Schaefer talks. A year ago, words like 'youth' and 'young' were regularly used in news conferences, and justifiably so. ... An added year of experience has changed the script this season. ...On Sunday, MSU took another confident step forward with a 74-48 victory against LSU in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams. That win and a victory against Northwestern State last Wednesday helped push MSU to another program-best: a No. 4 ranking in The Associated Press poll, which was released Monday."
Alabama beats Mississippi State 68-58 behind Johnson, Ingram
Avery Johnson Jr. and Dazon Ingram each scored 13 points to lead Alabama to a 68-58 win over Mississippi State in their Southeastern Conference opener on Tuesday night. Riley Norris added 11 points and Alabama (8-5) out-rebounded Mississippi State 43-26. Mario Kegler scored 12 points and Tyson Carter added 10 for Mississippi State (9-4). "That was a tough loss and a tough way to start out the conference season," said Mississippi State coach Ben Howland. The Bulldogs take to the road for the first time in SEC play and travel to LSU on Saturday.
MSU Notebook: SEC opener sees new lineup for Bulldogs
Mississippi State introduced a new starting five for its Southeastern Conference opener against Alabama on Tuesday. Freshman forward Schnider Herard earned his first career start while sophomore guard Xavian Stapleton drew his second in addition to the usual lineup of Quinndary Weatherspoon, I.J. Ready and Mario Kegler.
Bulldogs in the NFL
Mississippi State has had 21 former players active on NFL rosters this season. Each week, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal checks in on how those Bulldog alumni are performing at the professional level.
Prices climb for Alabama title game tickets
Fans looking to attend the College Football Playoff national championship in Tampa, Florida, on Monday should be prepared to pay a hefty price to do so, according to ticket resale experts who say it will be one of the most expensive championship games ever. The No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide is set to take on the No. 2 Clemson Tigers after both teams handily defeated their opponents in playoff semifinal games last weekend. The match-up is set to begin at 7 p.m. Monday in Tampa's Raymond James Stadium. Jesse Lawrence, the CEO of TiqIQ, said the cheapest ticket available Tuesday was selling for $873. The average asking price was $2,195, and the most expensive ticket was listed for $10,482, he said. Lawrence said prices are likely to keep rising this week, and the data shows this will be the most expensive championship in recent college football history except the 2011 match-up between the Auburn Tigers and the Oregon Ducks.
Judge issues Harvey Updyke a citation of contempt for failing to appear
Harvey Updyke was issued a citation of contempt for failing to appear at a hearing in Lee County on Tuesday. Updyke pleaded guilty in 2013 to poisoning the Toomer's Oaks after Auburn's Iron Bowl win in 2010. Judge Jacob Walker ordered Updyke to pay $816,694.98 in restitution to Auburn University and court costs. Updyke paid approximately $1,200 in 2016, according to his attorney Andrew Stanley. He has paid $3,712.50 total, according to court records. Walker ordered Updyke, who now lives in Louisiana, to submit a budget with an amount he would be able to pay monthly. Stanley said Updyke's wife told him Updyke's poor health kept him from traveling. A contempt hearing is set for March 1.
U. of South Carolina's Harris Pastides makes resolution to play guitar solo at Williams-Brice Stadium
When you're watching the Gamecocks play next season, a University of South Carolina leader might unexpectedly steal the show, thanks to a New Year's resolution. USC President Harris Pastides said in a video published by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina this week that he plans to take electric guitar lessons. He went farther and said his goal is to play a Jimi Hendrix version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Williams-Brice Stadium in the fall. Pastides' announcement was part of BCBSSC's Live Fearless campaign, which features stories of inspirational South Carolinians.

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