House of Representatives District 15: 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? BS degree in Agricultural Education; educator for several years; Legislature x 8 years with positive education votes; Children educated in public schools and attended ICC; substitute teacher at present
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, it should be fully funded each year. As a former legislator, I voted to fully fund education and for teacher pay raises each year.
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? Work to put the citizens of Mississippi first instead of big corporations.
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 for private schools. If someone wants to send their child to private school, that is okay. They should pay for it, not the citizens of Mississippi.
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, If public funds are utilized the accountability should be the same across the board.
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, I would vote to fully fund all public education.
7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? Yes, research shows that early childhood education works. It is important for Mississippi to get on board.
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? If all families were perfect we wouldn’t need interventions for the above problems. Families are not perfect, so teachers must wear many hats. We need to provide information and time for teachers to implement needed programs to address the problems.
9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Yes. Teachers are professionals and should be respected as treated as such–including pay. Teacher assistants provide essential services in our elementary schools and should be compensated.
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; I am one. We need to encourage experienced people to run for office and serve our communities.
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? Most definitely. I am substitute teaching and know that teachers in the classroom are on the front lines. They know what is needed. Pontotoc County and City school districts have excellent educated superintendents who stay informed about the issues. Parental support in our community is great and those parents need to be encouraged to voice their opinions.
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 will vote the way that will benefit the citizens of my district and to improve the educational system across the state of Mississippi.