*The Senate has a bizarre rule that allows senators who want to hide their votes to “pair” the vote with an absent senator who would vote in the opposing manner. Two senators’ votes were paired on the HCR 9 question, and so some reports will record the vote as 30-20. The Parents’ Campaign counts all votes, even those that are paired.
This afternoon, the Senate passed HCR 9, over the objections of the people they were elected to serve, on a 31 to 21* vote. You can see how your senator voted here. You can see the tweets of those following the Senate debate here. They provide a pretty good snapshot of the floor discussion.
Senate Education Chair Gray Tollison presented the resolution and spoke in support of it. No other senator spoke in favor of the alternative.
Many senators spoke in opposition, including Sen. Hob Bryan who made a strong and eloquent case for the efficacy of the MAEP formula. He questioned the sincerity of those who claim that all elected officials want to fully fund the MAEP, noting the hostile comments made recently by some of our state leaders.
A brilliant line of questioning came from Sen. David Blount of Jackson. Sen. Blount forced Sen. Tollison to admit that, if the legislative alternative were to pass, any parent who felt his child had not been provided an “effective” education, as called for in the alternative, could sue the state. And that lawsuit would be decided by a judge in Hinds County, who could, theoretically, recommend all manner of remedies. Of course, ultimately, the decision would rest with the State Supreme Court – just as it does now. The whole Hinds County judge issue was pure malarkey, and Sen. Blount thoroughly debunked it today.
Sen. Blount also reminded his colleagues that, in years past, when citizens proposed ballot initiatives, legislators did not propose a legislative alternative. Even when citizens pushed for an initiative to limit the term of every elected official in the state, legislators left the amendment alone, with no alternative on the ballot. They trusted the people, and the people voted no. The same was true of the personhood amendment.
But now, when parents want to amend the constitution to guarantee their children the right to an adequate education, this Legislature says, “No, we don’t trust you.” They have gone to unprecedented lengths in their attempt to disallow that fundamental right for our children.
What has happened in our State Legislature over the past week should give us all pause.
It is not just frustrating. It flies in the face of our values as a people. Consider this…
In 2011, you elected to office, by and large, people who promised to support our public schools and, specifically, to get back to full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) just as soon as revenue rebounded. They did not. They have broken that promise repeatedly, leaving our schools under-funded by hundreds of millions of dollars each year, all the while bashing our public schools and threatening to send the same funds they refuse our children to private academies and for-profit schools.
So, you took matters into your own hands. You spent countless hours collecting signatures to amend our constitution so that our children would be guaranteed the right to an adequate education. Then you blanketed the Capitol with thousands of emails, texts, tweets, Facebook posts and Instagrams asking legislators to keep their hands off our amendment – to let citizens have an up or down vote on their own amendment to their own constitution.
They ignored you. They trampled the will of the people and have passed a legislative alternative that will make it exceedingly difficult for the citizens of this state to express their will on the ballot. Read more here.
Every once in a while, we have a chance to be a part of something truly life-changing. We have that chance now…
We can change the Legislature.
February 27, 2015, is the deadline for candidates to file with their respective parties to run for legislative office. If you are not happy with the way you are being represented, you have a little more than a month to find a strong, qualified candidate whom you trust to look out for the interests of our children. You can find the guidelines for interested candidates on the Secretary of State’s web site here.
If you are fortunate enough to be represented by someone who votes consistently to protect the interests of our public school children, please reach out to him or her and offer your help in the coming campaign. They will need your support to fend off the privatization crowd that is funding anti-public education candidates. If we don’t act with resolve, they will take over our Legislature and public education will be doomed.
Don’t Mississippi kids deserve the same shot at a decent future as the kids in other states?
We can make that dream come true for boys and girls all over Mississippi, but we are going to have to elect honorable people who share that goal.
Too many of our legislators have consistently thumbed their noses at the law that was intended to ensure sufficient funding for our schools. This week they thumbed their noses at you. It’s time to act. Our children cannot afford four more years of this.