House of Representatives District 19: 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? I am in my 15th year of teaching middle school. My mother, Burma Schumpert, taught for 35 years in the public school system and my daughter, Chelsea Hussey will begin her 4th year of teaching in public education. No one in my family has ever attended private 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. I think it is a shame to have created a law in 1996/1997 which would fund public education, and not fulfill the obligation of the law from year to year unless the law is taken out of practice by legislation.
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? One of the issues I see with state revenue is the misappropriation of funds due to lobbyists, special interests groups, and mishandling of state funds instead of the best interests of Mississippians and local communities. I plan to support bills that ensure the citizens of Mississippi and not special interest groups are sustained. My ultimate goal will be to have a state tax system that promotes fairness for everyone and promotes good economics. This ultimately will promote education, college/career-ready graduates, growth in our economy and the pursuit of personal prosperity.
4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? Vouchers have no proven long-term solutions to education and have no accountability attached to them. Many communities, such as the one where I teach and live, have invested a lot in their public schools. Vouchers seem to always have a special interest group behind them.
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, but it seems that most legislators have never stepped into a classroom in the last few years, much less a special education situation. I hope to bring an awareness to the special equipment, material and settings that are required to achieve educational services to these students, to accomplish better funding for these resources.
7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? Early childhood education can provide consistent structure, routine, helpful social skills, academics and inspire a love of learning. Both of my children went to preschools.
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? From my personal experience teaching K-12 students, emotional issues are abundant which stem from lack of support from home. Teachers mentor, nurture, listen and look for signs of trouble. Again, until one has been in the classroom in the last few years, the need for emotional support for these students goes unseen. I hope to make the legislature more aware of these issues and bring to light the need for financial support that would reduce student/teacher ratios and provide more psychological counselors at school.
9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? 100% 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. This is the number one reason education does not have a voice 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? I have contacts with in-service and retired superintendents of education (Johnny Green, Mike Scott, Jimmy Weeks, F.G. Wiygul, Trey Wiygul and Coke Magee), current employees and retirees of public education, including teachers, principals, and coaches. I plan to call and ask advice from these frequently.
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 am in this race whole-heartedly with no prior commitments or selfish gain. I am for building lives and communities and upholding the will of my constituents. Remember… I teach school. I don’t fold under pressure!!