House of Representatives District 32: 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 children and I attended public school in Mississippi. As a County and Juvenile Judge I advocated for funding for education for Juveniles confined in the Juvenile Detention Center. We secured a small federal grant but we were unsuccessful in securing funding from the County for Juvenile Detention Education programs. I used my own funds to establish an education program at the Juvenile Detention Center. The program concentrated on reading and writing essays, writing and reciting poetry, learning and test taking skills, and listening skills. Student had to obtain a Library Card . check out books ,and do book reports. I have also served as a School Board Attorney.
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. I will introduce and support legislation to fully fund the MAEP, increase Teachers and Teachers Aides pay . I will work for money to upgrade school facilities in District 32 and for more technology in the schools in my District.
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 will work to increase education appropriations and to roll back tax breaks that have been given to Corporations and others in previous years.
4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? I will oppose any measure which takes money away from the Public School System.
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. I will push for more funding for public education which will include more funding for students with disabilities and special needs.
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? I will advocate for funding to do assessments of students who face such barriers and I will advocate for increased funding for Community Mental Health facilities to help deal with the problems outlined above.
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. I am a retired County Judge. I had to cease drawing my state retirement benefits in order to serve in my present position.
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 am a former School Board Attorney and I am familiar with education policies. I have three (3) sisters who are retired teachers, my sister-in-law, my oldest brother, my daughter, and three of my nieces are college professors who are well versed in education policies. They all advise me on education policies, several of them have Doctorate degrees, and several of them have Masters degrees in education. They have all advised me in the past.
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 do not accept campaign contributions from lobbyists or PACs. I am a Democrat, but I am obligated to vote in the interest of my constituents in all matters . As a native Black Mississippian I am aware that the Democratic party as well as the Republican party both have histories of working against the interest of the people. I have spent most of my professional life as an Attorney fighting against unresponsive governmental officials, both Democrats and Republicans, and I intend to keep fighting to ensure that government in Mississippi becomes more responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens.