House of Representatives District 36: 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:   Karl M. Gibbs  WINNER  /   Jessica Lofton Lewis

 Karl M. Gibbs (Incumbent)      WINNER

» See Voting Record

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? I went to the public school system all the way through and my mother was an educator for over forty years, so I’m a firm believer in public education.

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 do, because the children are our future and they need all of the adequate funding in order to make them able to compete in the world once they graduate from high school. I will work hard with my colleagues to help fully fund education and, also, I would like to see the lottery changed for more to go towards education and infrastructure.

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 hard to see that we get adequate funding for it.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? I’ll oppose it if it’s taking money from the public school system because the public school system is for everybody. If you choose to go to a different school then you should be responsible for paying for that, not the taxpayer.

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? If someone receives taxpayer dollars, they should be accountable to the taxpayers. They should be held to the same standards.

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, it should be because a person can’t help if they have a disability – that is something out of their control, so yes, it should be. I will work hard with the people across the aisle and my colleagues in order to come up with some sort of plan to fully fund education.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? Yes, because that will help the children when they get into grade school. If you start early you can’t help but help them, you know as they say, the early bird gets the worm.

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? They should work to come up with some kind of plan to get people the adequate help that they need to prevent this.

9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? I do! I have been campaigning on that all the time.

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 really do not. I don’t agree with that because if you wanted to do that, then go ahead and you’re double dipping and killing the retirement system, when you do that.

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?
Yes, I will. Anything that’s coming up educationally, I will call the superintendent in our district and he and I will talk on whatever the particular issue is.

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 vote for what is best for my district, I don’t do that other.


 Jessica Lofton Lewis


 Jimmy Davidson (defeated in primary)


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