House of Representatives District 78: 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? I am a graduate of Forest High School. My wife is a graduate of Lake High School. My daughter graduated Scott Central Attendance Center and my grandson attends Rouse Elementary School.
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, but we just haven’t had the political courage to do it. I will support this every year when I am elected. When we underfund our schools, our schools and students suffer. It also makes our schools choose whether they raise taxes or cut needed programs.
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 enough money for this to happen already, but the priorities of some legislators have not been in the right place. It’s all about priorities on what and where our tax money is spent.
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 don’t fund our public schools at an adequate level now. Why are we trying to start a new school system. If parents want to send their children to private schools or home school them, that is certainly their decision to make however I just don’t agree with sending public dollars to fund them.
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 Charter Schools are so great, why don’t we give our public schools the same flexibility and freedoms.
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. We underfund our Special Education services every year at around $30 million dollars a year. This should be made a priority each year of the Education budget. Money spent on excessive testing could be used to accomplish this.
7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? Yes. Once again it’s about priorities. I agree that Pre-K will benefit our students in their education for years to come if it were to be implemented.
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 think that the first step is listening to our professionals that are with our children daily, as well as providing our educators with the resources they need to assist families with identified concerns or problems, would be a good start to formulating better success for all involved.
9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Yes. All of the surrounding states are giving meaningful pay raises. If we want to keep our teachers, we have to pay them like the professionals they are and pay them what they deserve.
10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature? Yes.
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 think that seeking knowledge from the professionals in the field of education is the best practice for any legislator and I will absolutely seek guidance from them.
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 the people in my district, who elect me. I will always put the people of my district first in every decision that I make and every vote that I take.
Randy Rushing (Incumbent) WINNER