Senate District 40: 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:   Angela Burks Hill  WINNER  /  Thomas Lehr

 Angela Burks Hill (Incumbent)     WINNER

» See Voting Record


 Thomas Lehr

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family? I substitute taught in Houston and Henderson, KY. I’ve never had any children. They actually took money out of the check in Kentucky and put in retirement account- this was 15 years ago. I was public school except for two years in a Catholic school- I was raised by a single mother and actually was an excellent student until I hit high school and started running with the wrong crowd-I quit high school at 16. My mother had quit also after the 10th grade and my grandfather the 8th- when I was 18- I took the G.E.D. along with my mother. I started community college and eventually received an associates degree- I joined the military and through the G.I. bill received my Bachelor degree and graduate certificate. I am a product and proponent of public education.

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 would work within my party and the pro teacher organizations to insure this happens, also, stand opposed to bogus legislation being pushed by DeVos/Empower and ALEC and my opponent Angela Hill.

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? Vote accordingly/keep up with legislation- Keep in contact with those that are at ground level/and not give funds away to corporate interests and make them invest in this state, not get all tax breaks.

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 went to Catholic school for two years. My mother paid out of pocket to me- vouchers take away from community, cause division- home schools- religious schools are separate in many ways rather than unifying- as are private schools- and accountability with these groups are N.L.

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

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? Employment with livable wages/affordable housing and healthcare/vote for bills that would ease the burden, that’s why Missississippi is first in many of these problems, Repubs are not helping in these matters.

9. Do you support raising teacher salaries at least to the level of our neighboring states and raising pay for teacher assistants? Yes, the teachers should get pay for being counselor, doctor, mother, father, protector, friend-but- Repubs, most do not see it this way.

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, if they want to.

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 have a friend Deborah Craig. Retired teacher who is very knowledgeable also two other women, that retired.

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 have already been approached by Empower also- had a very heated discussion with Gerald Gibert of Empower on text- they lie- their main goal control/privatization- no accountability to state.

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