Prior to the recession, the sentiment among elected officials strongly favored fiscal support for public schools. And in the most recent statewide election, most legislators ran on a platform that promised a return to full funding of the MAEP as soon as state revenue rebounded (see Candidate Q&A).
That time has come. Mississippi ended the 2013 fiscal year with a $295-million surplus. And yet Mississippi children continue to be denied even adequate resources for their schools. This year, our public schools are shorted $292-million. Since 2009, the funding the Legislature provided for our children’s schools is $1.5-billion below what our state law says it should be. That is unacceptable.
The simple truth is that the money is available and the solution is right in front of us – legislators must decide to put public education in the #1 spot in the budget they lay out for our state this year.
Our children need us. Their futures depend upon our willingness to stand up for their right to an adequately funded public education. Here’s how you can help:
• Help us get the word out about funding – The Parents’ Campaign has joined other education advocates to distribute car magnets with the message, “Support Public Schools; Fund MAEP.” (See the 3″x7.5″ magnet here.) To order your free car magnet, or to request multiple magnets to share with your PTA, PTO, friends, and family, email Amanda at email@example.com with your name, number of stickers requested, and shipping address. We want to see “Fund MAEP” magnets everywhere we go!
• Share our posts on your Facebook page and retweet us on Twitter.
• Invite us to speak to a parent, civic, or educator group in your community.
• Become a key volunteer for The Parents’ Campaign. Email Cindy at firstname.lastname@example.org.
More bad ideas about funding are floating around the Capitol, including the desire of some legislators to dismantle the MAEP altogether, or to move away from funding each student’s needs through the MAEP and instead just fund legislators’ and lobbyists’ pet programs.
The good news is that many legislators have spoken up recently in favor of getting back to full funding of the MAEP, but their voices are at risk of being drowned out by those that prefer to privatize – or “profitize” – education. Our voices are needed to ensure that our children’s futures are not sold to corporate lobbyists and profiteers.
We’ve done it before, and we can do it again! Our children and their teachers have been stepping up to the challenge to improve student achievement in Mississippi. Our state’s achievement level has improved every year for two decades. Our dropout rate is at the national average…but our per-student funding remains among the very lowest in the country.
Let’s all rise to the challenge to put our money where we say our priorities lie: with the children in our public schools. Together, we can get that job done – and ensure a brighter future for our kids and for our state.