Too Many Red Flags to Ignore
The November "public" hearing about the MAEP revamp raised even more red flags in a process that already had public education supporters deeply skeptical.
It has become crystal clear that this is not a sincere effort to engage in a meaningful analysis of the critical, complicated formula that determines our schools' funding. This rushed, secret effort is in stark contrast to the lengthy, public effort that resulted in the formulation of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Therefore, we are calling on lawmakers to halt this process until it can be accomplished with full transparency and public input. Legislators should vote down any attempt to change the school funding formula in the 2017 Legislative Session.
• The entire MAEP revamp process has been shrouded in secrecy, public scrutiny has been quashed, and citizen input has been discouraged.
• Legislative leaders first refused to let the public see the EdBuild contract, making it public only after an AG opinion forced their hand.
• State, House, and Senate leaders pushing for the change did not even bother to show up for the public hearing.
• The public was given only three days' notice of the hearing.
• The hearing was held in Jackson during the work day, making attendance impossible for most parents and teachers across the state.
• The hearing was halted after 75 minutes; many who rearranged their schedules to be there were not allowed to present their comments.
• No further public hearings have been announced.
• Time is far too short to develop meaningful recommendations.
• Though the public has been allowed to submit input via email, the only people and groups allowed to meet with EdBuild have been hand-picked by the leadership; the general public has been denied the opportunity to ask questions of EdBuild, legislators, or the leadership about their plans for our tax dollars and funding for our children's education.
• Those running this show can give no plausible explanation for why there is an urgent need to reconfigure how public schools are funded.
• We have no assurance that the public will ever see or have the opportunity to comment on EdBuild's findings.
The truth is that we have a good school funding formula now. The problem is the failure to fund it.
There is great concern that the final formula rewrite will take place behind closed doors in conference where only six people will be privy to the details, and that language will be added to gut public schools and foster vouchers and for-profit charter schools or heaven knows what else.
It's time to stop this charade, follow the law, and properly fund our children's schools. We urge legislators to stand by their constituents and Mississippi's public school children, and vote no on any MAEP rewrite in 2017.
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