The state is still wrestling with a directive from the federal government on bathroom use by transgender students in public schools. The U.S. Attorney General's Office and the U.S. Department of Education have told school districts across the country to allow students to use the school facilities that match their gender identity or possibly lose federal education money. Last week, the state Department of Education said it will adhere to the directive. But yesterday, state Superintendent Carey Wright issued a statement saying: "Pending a discussion with the Mississippi State Board of Education, I am instructing the Mississippi Department of Education to follow the lead of state leadership and take no action at this time regarding the non-regulatory guidance from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education." This came after eleven state legislators in an open letter asked Wright not to follow the federal directive -- or to resign. With us this morning is Rob Hill -- state director of the Human Rights Campaign. Welcome, Rob.
A statewide program that provides intensive probationary services to at-risk youth is closing at the end of the month. The Adolescent Opportunity Program -- or AOP -- helped nearly 1,200 youth statewide in 2015. Margaret Alfonso is a Youth Court Judge in Harrison County. She told MPB's Evelina Burnett the AOP is vital to the work done in Youth Court. And she doesn't know what will be done when it goes away.
Mississippi is making modest gains in pre-kindergarten education -- but still lags behind the rest of the country. That's according to a new report by the nonpartisan group NEAR – the National Institute for Early Education Research. NEAR Director Steve Barnett told MPB's Paul Boger good pre-k programs help close achievement gaps among children.
Author and syndicated columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson is a proud dog owner -- but not always a good dog owner by her own admission. In her new book -- The Dogs Buried Over The Bridge: A Memoir In Dog Years -- Johnson takes a look back at her life and the dogs who shared it with her. She told MBP's Evelina Burnett in today's Book Club the memoir uses dogs to examine the ups and downs of life.