K-12 News is Good; Politics as Usual at Budget Hearings

Yesterday, Dr. Carey Wright had good news for the Joint Legislative Budget Committee when she presented the K-12 budget request on behalf of the State Board of Education: Mississippi is getting a terrific return on its investment in our public schools! Teachers are doing amazing work in classrooms all over the state, and student achievement is continuing to accelerate.

Dr. Wright lauded, especially, the great work being done to move our youngest students toward reading proficiency. She also noted that preliminary results from the PARCC assessments students took last spring indicate that Mississippi students performed on par with their peers in other states that used the same assessments and even exceeded other states’ performance in one area (she didn’t say which).

Mississippi educators are to be commended for the tremendous advances they are making despite the very significant levels of under-funding with which our schools continue to be plagued.

Just imagine what will be possible when Mississippi students and teachers are finally provided adequate education funding! That is the promise of Initiative 42 – a promise that you can make a reality by voting YES for 42 on November 3. Remember, you will need to vote twice: first for approval and then for 42! Click here to see how to mark your ballot in November.

Here’s more good news…parents, grandparents, teachers, and community leaders are standing up for our children and supporting Initiative 42! Don’t be fooled by the loud voices of a few who want to keep public schools on the ropes. Overwhelmingly, Mississippians support our public school students and want our schools adequately funded. Our challenge is to make sure that they go to the polls on November 3 and that they understand how to vote YES for adequate school funding. (The ballot is very confusing.) People have until October 3 to make sure they are registered to vote at their current residential address. Click here for a voter registration form.

Why are state leaders campaigning against adequately funded schools?

Opponents of adequate school funding have become so desperate that they have resorted to all sorts of scare tactics in an effort to frighten the public away from their support of public schools. In fact, legislative leaders opposed to Initiative 42 turned this week’s legislative budget hearings into a side show of anti-42 rhetoric. The annual hearings are held in a state-owned building using state staff and resources. The legislators on the committee are paid a per diem to attend. One reporter covering the hearings noted that there was more talk against 42 than about the state agency budget requests. Sounds like a straightforward use of state resources to campaign against Initiative 42, doesn’t it?

Among many leading questions in today’s anti-42 hearings, Rep. Greg Snowden asked the Community College Board chairman if he was working to make sure that all community college students, faculty, staff, and alumni are aware of the threats legislative leaders are making to cut agency budgets if Initiative 42 passes, saying, “We need for people to be aware and I hope that effort is being made… That is the obligation of all of us, I would say.”

Speaker Gunn asked similar questions of the Commissioner of our Institutions of Higher Learning (universities): Does your faculty understand the impact (of the cuts we are threatening)? Do your students understand the impact? Do your alumni understand the impact?

Consider the irony: state leaders have told public school employees that they cannot promote the positive impact that passage of Initiative 42 would have on their students, faculty, staff, and communities. (Click here to see what educators can do to promote Initiative 42.)

Here’s my question: Do we really want to leave public education at the mercy of legislators who will campaign so hard to keep our schools underfunded?

This week’s budget hearings demonstrate perfectly why it is so important that we amend the constitution to guarantee our children a fundamental right to an adequate public education and no longer leave them at the mercy of a hostile legislature with no recourse whatsoever. Initiative 42 is the only way our children will ever have the same quality public education that is guaranteed the children in every single state – except Mississippi.

If you are fed up with being 50th, join the 200,000 Mississippi parents, grandparents, teachers, and community leaders who have already expressed publicly their support for Initiative 42. Spread the word: On November 3, vote yes to amend and for Initiative 42!

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