Senate District 19: 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:   Dianne Black   /   Kevin Blackwell  WINNER

 Dianne Black

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? I had five children of my own to attend public school. I also attended public school. Public school is great. I also have a grandson and nephew in public schools. I am absolutely pro public 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, of course. I will try to convince legislators to fund the school system first. We should abide fully by the MAEP law of 1997. If more is needed, then we should give it.

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 make sure the greatest good (revenue) is given to the greater number of people (citizens). I believe our school system has the greatest number of 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 vouchers to private schools, religious schools, home schools, and virtual. I oppose giving these school vouchers because our public schools need good teachers with higher pay. Mississippi is at the bottom with low teachers’ pay.

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 are getting the public dollars so they should be using the exact same accountability measures as public schools.

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, these students can be added to the number with the other students, but stating how much is to be allocated. They are to be added in the equation with regular students.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide? Yes, this would take a load off grade school teachers. Kids will be better prepared for grade school.

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? The legislature should pass a bill for “equal pay for equal work.” Most of the poverty stricken homes are ran by single mothers. Adult education would be a plus also. Everyone should be computer literate. 

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 raising teachers salaries to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants. This will possibly stop our teachers from leaving the state!

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. Their retirement money is from their previous jobs. Now that they have another job they still should be paid.

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, sure. This is why I’m running and that is to be the people’s advocate. I will be there to serve you and the citizens of Mississippi fairly.

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 do what’s best for the school system. I will not give in. A good education for our children helps our economy to grow in Mississippi, so I will be in favor of fully funding MAEP. I will be firm!


 Kevin Blackwell (Incumbent)     WINNER

» See Voting Record


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