What is your vision for Mississippi, and how does education fit into that vision?
My vision for Mississippi includes economic development that will encourage more of our younger generation to stay in our state. Economic development depends on a sound educational system in all communities.
What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Mississippi schools and how will you address it?
Our schools' greatest challenge is finding a way to meet the needs of all students. Our students and their families need the opportunity to make a choice as to the "route" that they will take in preparation for their future. This would require a new look at state testing criteria and extensive discussion and research with educational leaders and legislative members.
For Fiscal Year 2012, the MAEP appropriation is underfunded by $237,386,693. Assuming no more than 2% inflation, the formula would likely require about $2,365,180,600 for Fiscal Year 2014 (to be decided in the 2013 Legislative Session), about $392-million more than was appropriated for Fiscal Year 2012. Would you support getting to this full funding level in two legislative sessions?
Yes, I believe full funding is necessary.
Will you commit to closing by a significant margin the current gap between current funding and full funding of the MAEP for Fiscal Year 2013 (to be decided in the 2012 Legislative Session)? The MAEP is currently underfunded by $237,386,693.
The following issues are very important to the 60,000 members of The Parents’ Campaign. Frequently throughout the year, we get calls and emails regarding these topics, and many of the questions submitted for this questionnaire were about funding for these specific areas.Where do these fit into your funding priorities, and how would you, as a legislator, address them?
• National Board Certification Program Stipend/National Board Certified Teachers (NBCT)
Considering the positive results of this program, I will be in favor of funding this program. Since our teachers' salaries are considerably lower than most others in the nation, this is a way to attract and keep teachers.
• Vocational Education
This phase of education is of utmost importance. Many students who do not achieve average or above success in the classroom often find success here. Some who do find high achievement levels prefer vocations.
• Gifted Education
Gifted education is an essential program in our schools but may need some changes. I believe all schools should have programs that are much the same. This program should be fully funded with some changes.
• Special Education
Special education is essential for public schools and should be fully funded. State testing should include only those SPED students who attend regular classroom sessions for the subjects being tested.
• Education Enhancement/Teacher Supply Fund (EEF)
Supplies needed in the classroom must be available and funded.
• Teacher Salaries
Our teachers choose this profession and should be rewarded for their choice. Our children will only be as educated as the teachers who teach them their skills. We need the best, and as quickly as funds become available or can be allotted, we need to increase teacher pay.
• Chickasaw Cession Payments
Annual payments should continue to be made.
• The Public Employee Retirement System (PERS)
This retirement should be funded and preserved for the membership who currently fund it.
How can Mississippi get creative to ensure sufficient revenue to fully fund education and other vital state services?
Mississippi can get creative by bringing heads together who have a sincere interest in education. Cooperative thinking and decision making can achieve full funding.
In Mississippi, some local school superintendents are elected rather than being appointed by their boards. Would you support or oppose a phase-out of elected superintendents, moving to appointment as incumbent elected superintendents retire or leave their positions?
Before making a decision one way or the other, I would need to investigate this idea.
What would you do to address Mississippi’s teacher shortage?
The shortage can best be addressed by teacher pay raises. Although money is not plentiful, education is essential and certified teachers must be paid salaries that are comparable or better than other states.
What steps should be taken to improve the quality of teaching in Mississippi?
Alternative route certifications should only be allowed in emergency situations. Since studies have proven that alternative route teachers, on average, yield poorer student results, we need to require teacher certification in designated subject areas.
What steps should be taken to improve the overall quality of Mississippi school leaders?
School leaders should serve in levels of administration in order to gain experience. For example, a first time administrator should serve as an assistant principal. All administrators should have enhanced curriculum knowledge.
Would you support state funding for a statewide non-compulsory early childhood education program? If yes, what is your plan for getting state funding for early education? If no, why are you opposed to state funding for early education?