House of Representatives District 28: 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 Candidates:   Jerry Darnell  WINNER  /   Matt Williams

 Jerry Darnell     WINNER

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? I was a classroom teacher for 6 years, assistant principal for 4 years, principal for 15 years, and 7 years as a district office administrator. I had 3 children that went through public schools in Mississippi.

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! To explain to the legislator that our public schools (School Districts) have a real need to be fully funded for the students to reach their full potential.

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 want to ensure that citizens of Mississippi are productive at a competitive level, and that there is sufficient revenue to for our citizens to live productive lives.

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 would oppose vouchers, because we must fully fund our K-12 education first. (MAEP)

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? I believe that all K-12 education including private voucher schools should be accountable, just as our accountability is measured in our public schools.

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 believe special education services should be fully funded every year. I would meet with other legislators to discuss the need to fully fund special education services every year. This will insure that all students receive the services that they need to do their very best.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? I do believe Mississippi should provide quality early childhood education, but I believe we must fully fund our K-12 education first.

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? To be considerate and mindful of everyone that has these needs. I believe we need to meet with teachers and administrators around our state to get input on what should be done to help these students.

9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Yes, I do support a teacher pay increase to the level of our neighboring states and support a pay increase for our teacher assistants.

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature? I do believe our retired educators should be able to serve in the legislature and draw their retirement. This is something I plan on doing if I am elected.

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 will commit to seek input from teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents of public school students in my district.

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 for what is in the best interest of public education, the needs of our communities, and for the needs of our state. I will take a strong stand and will not respond to pressure.

 Matt Williams


 W.I. “Doc” Harris (defeated in primary)


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