Candidate Q&A: House District 37
Special Election 2022
Our public education questionnaire is offered to candidates in legislative elections. A special election will be held on November 8, 2022, to elect a new state representative for House District 37. Search for candidates’ questionnaire responses below.
1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? Please note that this questionnaire was brought to my attention just over one week out from the election. I am happy to fill it out. But given the timing, I can only speak from the cuff. Many of these questions I would like to more deeply consider.
My undergraduate studies were in education. My wife was a schoolteacher at West Point High School, and continues to teach a variety of online courses. I have been an active school board attendee both here and abroad. All of my children attend/will be attending public school and all the extracurricular events relating thereto.
2. Do you agree that the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) should be fully funded every year? If yes, what actions will you take to ensure full funding? If no, explain why. The MAEP is the funding mechanism for our state’s public schools. See https://tpcref.org/mississippi-adequate-education-program-maep/ for information. Generally, yes. There are a lot of government programs that could be cut or even eliminated. Educational funding is not on my radar for that. Mississippi needs to fully and completely rid itself of waste, fraud, and abuse. When that happens, the government can fund the schools more efficiently.
3. What will you do to ensure state revenue that is sufficient to provide all of the services Mississippi’s citizens need to lead productive lives? Mississippi needs to continue attracting more businesses. Most large companies need essentially two things from the state—low taxes and good infrastructure. Influx of business will turn into better available jobs. It will also help alleviate any revenue problems we have. Our Legislature currently has a surplus. That surplus does not need to be given away to pet projects that will only benefit a chosen few.
I’m not sure the wording of this question is appropriate. It is not the job of the state of Mississippi to ensure that the citizens lead productive lives. It is the job of the free market, parents, and churches to promote productivity in society. The free market produces stress. That stress drives individuals to work harder and be better. Manipulation of the free market is a contributing factor the hyperinflation that we are now experiencing.
4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? Undecided. But at this point I will not. Competition drives success. If the public school system is worried about competing with private institutions, they need to ask themselves “why”. Healthy competition that does not leave children at a disadvantage can only benefit the overall system.
5. Do you agree that all K-12 schools that receive taxpayer dollars, including private voucher schools, should be accountable to taxpayers for the quality of education they provide, using the same accountability measures as public schools? There are certain benchmarks that fall outside the realm of healthy education and fall inside the realm of indoctrination. For subjects such as math and physics, the benchmarks are more appropriate. For social studies and sex ed, I am opposed to many of the benchmarks, particularly those that derive from other states.
6. Public schools serve the vast majority of Mississippi students with disabilities. Do you agree that special education services in public schools should be fully funded every year? (Special education has been underfunded by the state every year since 2008.) If yes, how will you accomplish full funding? If no, explain why. Every department throughout the state complains of being underfunded. But as a parent of a child with autism, I can say with assurance that special education will not be on my radar for funding cuts. I believe in inclusion, LRE, and providing adequate resources to our states most vulnerable.
7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? I think more resources should be available. But at the end of the day parents need to take personal responsibility for their young children. The state is simply ill-equipped to provide “womb to the tomb” care.
8. The nation’s top teachers say that the greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students are family stress, poverty, and learning and psychological problems. What steps do you believe legislators should take to alleviate these obstacles for Mississippi children? I’m still considering the first two of these problems. Those two problems can be helped with a robust economy in general. The latter two are more within the means of the educational system. Mental health is a real issue. I will be listening with open ears to specialists in the field when it comes to mental health. Mississippi needs more psychiatrists, and the practice of pediatric psychiatry in general needs less of a stigma. Whatever solution lawmakers come up with needs to involve parents. Sadly, deadbeat and toxic parenting are often the source of these obstacles.
9. In the 2022 Legislative Session, a significant teacher pay raise was passed. Do you support continued pay increases to ensure that Mississippi’s teacher salaries keep pace with inflation and salaries in our neighboring states? Yes. The education system needs proper checks and balances to keep from becoming a cash cow. But as far as teacher pay, yes it needs to be commensurate and competitive.
10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature? No! The Legislature is not a retirement gig. The legislative process does not properly work without fresh blood and fresh/nuanced ideas. Effective people in Jackson do not want to work with retirees. Most constituents feel that retirees have a tendency to be in the way of progress.
11. Legislators have little or no staff to help them understand the many bills they must consider. Before introducing or supporting a bill that could affect public education, will you commit to seeking input from teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents of public school students in your district? Who will be advising you on education policies? Absolutely. I will seek the advice of professionals, including parent organizations, superintendents organizations, curriculum developers, and those who actually work in the system.
12. In the past, legislators have received tremendous pressure from the leaders of their chamber (House or Senate), state and party leaders, and corporate lobbyists, to vote in ways that could contradict the will of their constituents and harm their communities. How would you respond to such pressure? I am not going to Jackson to kiss anyone’s ring! I will be held captive by no one. I will be accountable to God and to the voters that put me in.