House of Representatives District 106: 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.
1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? Both parents attended public school. Myself and 2 brothers all attended public school. One brother was a high school teacher. Sister-in-law is a middle school teacher. I am a former school board attorney and member of the Council of School Board Attorneys.
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. Every effort should be made to fully fund MAEP every year. Obviously wasteful spending and pet projects should be eliminated from the budget to find savings. We must also increase the state’s revenues with proven economic development policies by making data driven decisions and not get rich quick schemes that do not pay off for the tax payer or our public schools.
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? We must compete for public and private sector employers to locate in our state and increase the wage earning capacity of every Mississippian for starters. We must also not be fooled into unsound tax policies that reduce the state’s revenues without any return on investment.
4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? I do not support sending public education dollars away from public schools.
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.
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. Yes. By supporting sound economic policies that increase the state’s revenues and eliminating wasteful spending and misappropriations.
7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? Yes.
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? This issue is complicated and cannot be fully answered with a simple response. That being said, I believe early identification of at risk children and families is key and that we must provide proper mental health treatment and job training and placement to families in need, for starters.
9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Yes.
10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature? Yes.
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? Yes. I will seek the counsel of my local superintendents, school board members, teachers and parents.
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? Anything I vote for must not harm the communities in my district.