Senate District 16: 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 and my children are products of public schools.
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; Ask questions regarding appropriations for MDE. I will oppose all efforts to modify the MAEP formula.
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? Support legislation that fully funds MAEP and does not decrease the amount received by school districts for state support.
4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not? Yes; reports released to date indicate the oversight and accountability of state issued vouchers should be strengthened.
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 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; To the extent possible SPED services should be supported by way of appropriations from the general fund. General fund appropriations for education appear to be steadily declining in terms of percentages.
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? Enact laws that support the middle class and families led by working parents. Expanding Medicaid could also assist in addressing the needs of children and families suffering from psychological/mental issues.
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 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 confer with educators, administrators, parents and citizens in and out of the senate district currently.
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’m not sure what is referred to as pressure. I vote in the manner I believe best supports the interest of the majority of the citizens in the district. If asked to vote in a manner that I do not support, I will indicate my support or lack thereof.