House of Representatives District 64: 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.
Bill Denny (Incumbent)
Shanda Yates WINNER
1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? My entire family graduated/attended public schools. As an adult, I have worked on various projects with the Junior League of Jackson which were aimed at increasing early childhood literacy of JPS students.
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. We must fully fund our public schools and provide all children in the state with equal access to a quality public education. I will fight for this at the Legislature once elected.
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? Education funding must be a top priority in the state’s budget. Funding a quality education for all children in Mississippi will be my top priority.
4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? Taxpayer funds should not be used to fund vouchers unless/until public schools have been adequately funded. Vouchers should not be funded from funds designated for public schools.
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 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.
7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high-quality early childhood education statewide? Absolutely.
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? The first step is to competitively compensate our teachers. Placing (and retaining) quality educators in the classrooms will create a stable environment for K12 students to learn.
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 state retirement while serving in the Legislature? I need to research this issue more. I do not have an informed response to this question at this time.
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? Absolutely. As an attorney, I am a firm believer in obtaining facts prior to asserting a position in the courtroom. I will employ the same rationale in the Legislature.
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 not seeking office for power or money. I am seeking this office to represent Mississippians and provide a voice for them at the state level. I have no intention of selling my vote to the highest bidder.