House of Representatives District 53: 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 husband, daughter and I are all graduates of the public school system. I have been a teacher assistant and a substitute teacher in the public school system. My daughter is studying to be a fine arts teacher.
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! We have the money to fully fund our schools. If elected I would support it every year and cut out the funds going to unnecessary state testing.
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? We have the money for this. It’s just not in the right priority.
4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? Yes, we need to focus funds on our public schools, then parents might want to leave their children in public school.
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, all guidelines should be the same. If elected I would support that idea and always vote for it.
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. We underfund our special education services year. I think it should take first priority. We could use the money we are wasting on unnecessary testing.
7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high-quality early childhood education statewide? Yes, I have seen first hand how Pre-K has had a major impact on a child’s life. As a teacher assistant in kindergarten classroom, I could tell which ones of the students had been in Pre-K. It makes a huge impact!
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 know first hand that this is a big problem. There is no magical answer, but I would advocate for mental health training or exercises for the stress, learning and psychological problems.
9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Yes, I would support meaningful pay raises for our teachers. I also support going back to more teacher assistants because I know that those positions have been cut down.
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? Absolutely!!!!
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. It’s most important to get advice from the ones that are actually doing the job. That’s the job of our representatives and my opponent isn’t doing that, but I will get advice from teachers, principals, superintendents and parents first.
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 put my district and constituents first over politics. I will not be a “puppet.” I will fight for the people of Mississippi. I’m simply tired of the politics!