House of Representatives District 6: Candidate Q&A

Candidates for this office were offered a questionnaire on education issues by The Parents’ Campaign. See below for responses received to date.

General Election Candidate (Unopposed):  Dana Criswell 

 Dana Criswell (Incumbent)

» See Voting Record


 Mike Duncan (defeated in primary)

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? My wife and I attended public school 1-12. Both of my children attended public schools K-12. My granddaughter attended public schools K-5 and is about to enter 6th grade in public school.

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. Yes, I agree that MAEP should be fully funded. I will work with other legislators to achieve a mutual agreement of full funding.

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? I will work to cut regulations and taxes that stifle economic development while helping to create a positive economic evnvironment for growth and expansion which can lead to jobs. I will work to ensure Mississippi borrows and spends less. I’ll search for ways to redirect finances to needed areas such as education and transportation.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? Yes, I oppose vouchers. Our taxpayer dollars should stay in our public school 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? Yes. Any school receiving taxpayer dollars should have the same accountability. They should all be held to the highest standards.

6. Public schools serve the vast majority of Mississippi students with disabilities. Do you agree that public school special education services should be fully funded every year? (Special education has been underfunded by the state annually since 2008.) If yes, how will you accomplish full funding? If no, explain why. Yes. All of our children should have the same opportunity for a quality education. Funding for our special needs children should be no different than for any of our other children. I will work with other legislators to make sure all children are funded equally.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high-quality early childhood education statewide? Yes. With the ever changing technology and internet exposure it’s almost a necessity that our children begin their education in a pre-k program.

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? As I mentioned earlier, keeping regulations and taxes in check and creating a positive economic environment can lead to jobs and relieve stress and poverty among families. Less stress and a more positive learning environment could help alleviate learning and psychological problems.

9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Absolutely. We are losing our quality educators to other professions and to other states due to low pay. Our teachers and teacher assistants are the ones who educate our future leaders, educators, and workforce. I believe their pay should at least be at a competitive level with our neighboring states.

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their state retirement while serving in the Legislature? Yes. Allowing retired educators and other retired state employees would widen the availability of quality candidates. There is a limited number of candidates that are able to take the time to serve in the Legislature.

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? It is important to stay connected to the parents, teachers, principals, and superintendents of our public schools. Having grown up in my district I already have a relationship with many of these people. I have met with the Superintendent of Schools and will maintain that relationship.

12. Legislators receive tremendous pressure from the leaders of their chamber (House or Senate), state and party leaders, and corporate lobbyists, to vote in ways that may contradict the will of their constituents and harm their communities. How will you respond to this pressure? I grew up in Olive Branch and District 6. My roots are in District 6. The people, business leaders, and community officials are depending on me to represent them and their needs. Anyone trying to pressure me will have to understand that I am committed to the people of District 6.

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