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Election 2019: Candidate Q&A SD10 - The Parents Campaign

Senate District 10: 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:   Andre De’Berry   /   Neil Whaley  WINNER     

 Andre De’Berry

NO RESPONSE


 Neil Whaley (Incumbent)     WINNER

» See Voting Record

NO RESPONSE


 Alicia Blanks (defeated in primary)

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? I have been a high school chemistry/anatomy teacher. I also raised a daughter who entered into the public-school system. I have been an active advocate for children and teachers and competitive sports and lobbied and donated to funding local advances.

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! With progressive pay increases we attract quality employees. This enables better students creating an educational workforce increasing the quality companies to increase their presence.

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? The future of our state depends on the quality education of our future leaders. Teachers need funding in order to “want” to teach so we do not lose them to other fields.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? N/A

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. The whole educational system has been underfunded.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high-quality early childhood education statewide? YES!! The vast majority of children’s excellence occurs in the early years. Young children are sponges who can retain and learn a great quantity of pertinent information!

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? Kids need a safe space to learn. If they need a place to wash clothes safely, allow them to, there are ways to help the community by providing basic needs. Food, shelter, safety, afterschool programs. This helps those that don’t know they need it.

9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Yes!! It’s time. Teaching is really a passion for Mississippi teachers because they are paid less than every state, 51st out of 50 states!!

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? Yes!! They earned that money. Teaching is not easy!

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. N/A (I have people who are aware and honest but they will be called upon when needed)

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? All options must be weighed, but my constituents come first!! That’s why I’m there.

 

 Michael Cathey (defeated in primary runoff)

NO RESPONSE


 Carlton Smith (defeated in primary)

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? I grew up in Holly Springs Public Schools, grades 5 to 12, having attended both Holly Springs Intermediate School and Holly Springs High School. My father was a principal in Marshall County at Galena School when it opened, but lost that job because of his voting rights activism. My mother taught at Henry Junior High School in Byhalia for most of her career. Both my older brother and my younger brother attended Holly High, grades 11 to 12 and and 9 to 12 respectively.

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 it should be funded every year. Mississippi will begin to prosper when we start valuing all of our children and not just those who live in prosperous towns/neighborhoods. I will use the State Senate floor and my vote to advocate for MAEP. I will also hold fora in Marshall and Tate Counties to educate parents, students and concerned neighbors about what is at stake.

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 will work toward Medicaid expansion so that we can finally receive the millions and millions of dollars we need to keep our rural hospitals open and to build new facilities; I will employ my wide connections to concerned Americans inside and outside Mississippi to draw interest in what our state has to offer; I will be a voice of the people, bringing their struggles with high taxes and high utility bills to the Senate floor; I will sponsor legislation that offers incentives to native Mississippians living outside the state who could be working remotely from within it, bringing those taxes into our coffers as I do; I will counter discriminatory and intrusive legislation that discourages people from wanting to live or even visit here, and; I will promote and support efforts to expand Mississippi’s tourism and retirement industries, especially in the north.

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. I believe every parent has a right to send their children wherever they want, whether to public or private schools. However, the money that the public invests needs to stay in the public schools. We have longstanding practices in this state that ensure those with the most resources get even more and those with less get even less. This needs to end.

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. I have concerns about “teaching to the test” in general, but the standards should be the same if privately funded schools are receiving public vouchers.

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. They should be funded every year. These families need help the most. I will work cooperatively with other legislators to ensure our special needs children and their families are properly supported.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? Yes.

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? Families will be stressed when dealing with poverty and learning/psychological problems. I believe these challenges will have to be dealt with from two different approaches. In the short run, I would support funding for staff to work with the children and to support the parents with coping techniques. Long-term, I would want to collaborate with other legislators to develop ways of countering the root causes of many of these problems, which have to do with lack of employment opportunities, low self-esteem and self-perpetuating systems of oppression.

9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Absolutely. Moreover, when the pay is equal from county to county, teachers will lose incentive to relocate from one district to another simply because of the pay scale.

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature? Absolutely! We need the wisdom that they have to offer in the chambers of the Capitol.

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 that. I don’t have a full list of advisors, but two will be Mrs. Tina Scott, who was one of my teachers in elementary school, and Dr. William D. Scott III, her husband, who is a professor at Rust College and my campaign treasurer.

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? The same way I have responded to outside pressure since I’ve been on the campaign trail, and really all my life. I will listen to what everyone has to say, then discern for myself what is the best to do. The beautiful part of my candidacy is that the primary reason I want to be elected is so that I can counter all the legislators who feel beholden to the many voices pressuring them to operate against the best interest of the people. I will model my behavior after great Mississippians like Fannie Lou Hamer, Medgar Evers, Vernon Dahmer and Holly Springs’ own Ida B. Wells-Barnett, who said, “The way to right wrongs is to shine the light of truth upon them.”

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