House of Representatives District 109: 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? My wife and I attended public schools while growing up. Our children attended public schools up to 4 years ago. Since then we have home-schooled our children for two years and sent them to a private school for two years.
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. If we have the funding, yes, we should. To do this we may need to cut funding to other programs.
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? Eliminate unnecessary spending, grow the economy, & ensure that tax dollars are used appropriately.
4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? No, I will not. My children have not stepped foot in a public school in over four years. I did not receive a reduced tax rate for not using the public school system. Either my family should be allowed to use vouchers or our taxes should be reduced until our children graduate from high school.
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? No, I do not. Parents often withdraw their children from the public schools because the public school system does not work for them. By allowing the public school system to interfere with private schools, this encroaches on a parent’s right to choose. I do, however, support requiring third party accreditation for private schools if these schools receive voucher funding.
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. Of course it should be funded. I do not know how this can be done. I am willing to work with your organization to find funding for this.
7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? Yes, absolutely. I agree that early intervention is important to the children that are in need of those services.
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? School breakfast and lunch should be provided, at no cost, to the students. Ensure that teachers have adequate training to recognize students at risk for the issues mentioned.
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? Absolutely.
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? When advice is needed, it is important to reach out to experts. If I need advice, I would reach out to people in my district that are teachers, principals, etc. and ask their advice.
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? If party leaders punish me for voting my conscience, then I will find and recruit candidates to run against them in the next election cycle.