A national school choice lobbying outfit is urging state elected officials to use Mississippi’s federal CARES Act dollars to fund vouchers for private school tuition.
Chronic, historic shortfalls in school funding have denied our most vulnerable students the technology and infrastructure that could have supported them through this pandemic. The inequities among school districts have been laid bare for all of us to see.
Meanwhile, in the most recently completed fiscal year, 61 percent of the ESA vouchers given to Mississippi students were never used. At last report, there was no waiting list for the ESA program, and a majority of the vouchers handed out in the current year were also going unused.
Thousands of Mississippians have lost employment due to COVID-19. Our state has more needs than can possibly be addressed by a federal bailout. It would be irresponsible for our elected officials to spend a single dime of CARES Act funding on a voucher program that can’t use the funds it’s already been given.
We will be watching closely for indications of how our tax dollars – federal and state – might be allocated, and we will let you know how you can help ensure that those dollars are spent well.
If you’d like to hear what a legislator has to say about our current challenges, join a great crowd of public school supporters on Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. for the Mississippi Collective’s Virtual Happy Hour speaker series starring millennial legislators. This Thursday’s event will feature Rep. Shanda Yates of Jackson. Register here.
The coming weeks will be critically important as the Legislature returns to finish out the 2020 Session and decisions are made about how state and federal dollars should be spent. Additional public school resources will be needed to help students make up the learning they have missed while school buildings have been closed and to prepare for a possible return of the coronavirus in the fall. We will need your help. We’ll be in touch soon, because together, we’ve got this!