House of Representatives District 97: 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.

General Election Candidates:   Sam Mims    /    Ben Thompson

 Sam C. Mims, V (Incumbent)

» See Voting Record


 Ben Thompson

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? Taught school in Oakland, CA, 3rd grade, 1976; Southwest Community College 10 years in Business Department and Real Estate. 

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, I fully agree MAEP should be fully funded. I will draft and submit bills through the Legislature with education being priority #1 in Mississippi.

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? Enforce accountability and ensure that all spending is for the benefit of the people. 

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 will oppose. Together we can make our public schools the best in the universe. When tax dollars are split up, the more branches you have the less will be allocated to public school for all.

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, they should be fully accountable.

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.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? Yes, this is the foundation for the beginning of a child’s learning.

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? If a child is not learning from the method you are teaching, then you change and teach in the methods they learn. 

9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Yes, I support this issue, which will help us retain quality teachers. Retention is very important in our schools. 

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, they earned it.

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 will seek input from teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents of public school students.

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 be there to represent the people from my districts, my constituents are my most important assets. We need leaders who will stand up for the people. Mississippi has been number 50 in education, poverty, etc. because our past elected officials are weak. We can do better.

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