House of Representatives District 67: 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.
Earle S. Banks (Incumbent)
1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? I have always been a proud supporter of public schools, especially JPS, and helped prevent JPS takeover. I was instrumental in initiating the Lanier High School car tags, generating tens of thousands of dollars annually to the Lanier High School’s Alumni Association.
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 agree that our public schools should be fully funded in order to ensure all children access to an adequate education- including those who live in poorer districts. I have voted and will continue to vote for more funding for our schools.
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 would repeal the inventory tax and dedicate the lottery proceeds to public education. I would be willing to give local municipalities authority to pass the 1% gasoline tax for road and bridge repair.
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 vouchers because sending our public school funding to unaccountable private academies is unconstitutional.
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? I agree that private schools that receive public money should be held to the same standard as public schools. They should be held accountable and be transparent.
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. I agree that special education services should be fully funded every year. I have and will continue to vote for legislation that provides help for children with special needs.
7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high-quality early childhood education statewide? I agree that Mississippi should provide high quality childhood education statewide to ensure students are school ready when they enter kindergarten.
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? We, as legislators, can help tackle those barriers by passing legislation that provides more funding to public schools, primarily those in low income areas, to help level the playing field, and early childhood education programs to ensure students are kindergarten ready when they enter school. Provide teacher pay raises to draw in a more qualified pool of teachers to ensure that all students have access to highly qualified teachers.
9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? I support raising teacher pay raises and teacher assistants to the level of our neighboring states, and have voted in favor of teacher pay raises throughout my tenure in the legislature.
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 agree that retired educators and other retired state employees should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the legislature. This will increase opportunities for legislation to be passed that will benefit children in public schools.
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 do commit to seek input from the education community before voting on issues that affect public education, and have done so every year that I have served in the MS 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 always think about the needs of the constituents I serve before voting. I do not succumb to the pressure of leadership or lobbyists and never have during my 26 years of service.