House of Representatives District 40: 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.
Ashley Henley (Incumbent)» See Voting Record
Hester Jackson-McCray WINNER
1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? I am the mother of two and the grandmother of seven and have been involved as a parent and grandparent supporting my children and the children of the community over the years. I served as a school volunteer/chaperone (career day, field trips, kids coat program, etc.).
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 am a supporter of public education with the belief that each child deserves equal education. I am committed (if elected) to put forth legislation and support the MAEP funding proposal that will address student achievement and the inequality among school districts.
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 am committed to support legislation that ensures state revenue reaches citizens who need it most to live productive lives. Given the political climate in Mississippi on education, the 2020 House members will have to shift its thinking to be inclusive in order to move the educational needle in our state.
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 support public schools that provide equal education for all children and are accountable to both taxpayers and 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. Creating a publicly funded system outside of the public school system without the same accountability harms poor and disadvantaged families the most. It provides superior education to those who already have access to quality education.
6. Public schools serve the vast majority of Mississippi students with disabilities. Do you agree that public school special education services should be fully funded every year? (Special education has been underfunded by the state annually since 2008.) If yes, how will you accomplish full funding? If no, explain why. Yes. I agree that Mississippi students with disabilities should have the opportunity to attend schools that are fully funded. If elected, I will put forth legislation (and support legislation) that fully funds schools for children with disabilities.
7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high-quality early childhood education statewide? Yes, statewide high quality early childhood education is the foundation to improve student education overall- especially for poor and/or disadvantaged students.
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? Statewide high quality early childhood education, equally funded schools, funding to support students with disabilities (both physical and mental) will boost education across the board. Families/children struggling with barriers to education need support in identifying the problems and providing funding to give each child an opportunity to equal quality of education.
9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Yes, to attract and maintain teachers/teacher assistants- Mississippi must increase the salaries at least to match neighboring states.
10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their state retirement while serving in the Legislature? Yes, if educators and other retired citizens have earned retirement benefits- they should not lose them to serve our citizens. Additionally, our state education system will most likely improve if more educators were legislators because they understand best the barriers our students face.
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, if elected- I will seek input from those in education. My goal is to appoint an education committee to advise my team on educational matters.
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 committed to cast my votes to support my constituents. These are the people that are putting me in office and those are the ones I will serve. My ongoing town hall meeting will keep me abreast of the issues at hand and the positions of my constituency.