Senate District 27: 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 started my early childhood education at the Martin Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi. My wife and two children attended the public schools in Jackson, Mississippi, and graduated from Callaway High School in Jackson, Mississippi. My wife and two daughters worked for the Jackson Public School System. My daughter-in-law teaches at Pearl Middle School and was named District Teacher of the Year. Four of my sisters graduated from the Jackson Public Schools. My daughter-in-law and son-in-law graduated from public schools in East Mississippi. My father-in-law was a public school counselor for many years before he retired. I have been surrounded by public school educators all of my life.
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 believe that the Mississippi Adequate Education Program should be funded every year. I plan to work with the new leadership in the Senate to make this a priority as opposed to an election year gimmick.
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 to repeal the massive tax cut that we gave to out of state corporations this term of the Legislature. I will work against any plan that will diminish the revenue that is going to programs that help our citizens lead productive lives.
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 continue to oppose vouchers that take money away from our public schools. I believe that our public schools need additional resources and not less.
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. I agree that special education services in public schools should be fully funded every year. We can accomplish this by being vocal advocates and by convincing the new leadership that this is a priority.
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? Legislators can take steps to alleviate the obstacles that Mississippi children face by having an open and honest dialogue about the factors that hinder the progress of our children. We must engage nonprofits, faith based organizations and other units of government to work on solutions to this problem. We all must work together if we are to come up with a plan to alleviate these obstacles for Mississippi children.
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? I do commit to seeking input from teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents of public school students in my district. These stakeholders will be advising me on education policies. I have several family members who are public school teachers and I will be relying on them also.
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 always try to vote in the best interest of my constituents. My constituents sent me here to represent them and that is what I do.