Senate District 8
 

All candidates for this office were offered a questionnaire by The Parents’ Campaign regarding education issues.

Responses appear below. The winner of the November 8, 2011, general election is indicated below.
 
             Patsy Gregory      Russell Jolly - WINNER     
 
Patsy Gregory

What is your vision for Mississippi, and how does education fit into that vision?

My vision is to provide economic opportunities for educated people in our communities. I want to make sure each child receives a quality education and that education can prepare them for new jobs. We must educate our workforce to obtain new jobs and encourage citizens to obtain the highest education possible. 

 

What do you see as the greatest challenge facing Mississippi schools and how will you address it?

Each student should have access to quality educational opportunities to compete for jobs. I believe vocational and technology training should be offered to each student to give choices about their vocational future.

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? 

MAEP should be fully funded if revenues are available. 

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.

Education should be a top priority and should be funded if revenues are available.

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)

This is a great program to give good teachers the resources that they need. I support this program.

• Vocational Education

Every student deserves to be trained for new jobs and remain in Mississippi to work and live. Vocational education gives additional avenues for students in choosing a career path. 

• Gifted Education

I taught students who were very talented and they should be given opportunities to find quality jobs here in Mississippi. 

• Special Education

I taught students who needed extra assistance and they certainly deserve this assistance to become successful, contributing citizens of Mississippi.

• Education Enhancement/Teacher Supply Fund (EEF)

I believe that we need strong education funding, but this is an area that I believe parents could become more involved.

• Teacher Salaries

Teacher salaries have been lower than neighboring states for years and we have quality teachers. I believe some administrative costs could be spent in teacher salaries and classroom needs.

• Chickasaw Cession Payments

I am in favor of consistently funding these districts that do not receive 16th section land funds. 

• The Public Employee Retirement System (PERS)

I am in support of PERS and want to keep it solvent.

How can Mississippi get creative to ensure sufficient revenue to fully fund education and other vital state services?

Parents, the local leadership and state officials should come to conclusions about places to enhance funds by looking at administrative costs across the board.

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?

I would need more information before making a decision. 

 

What would you do to address Mississippi’s teacher shortage?

I want to obtain more information about neighboring states and teacher salaries. We need to pay teachers for meeting goals and recruit the teachers that our students deserve.

 

What steps should be taken to improve the quality of teaching in Mississippi?

Students should be allowed quality education wherever they live and steps should be taken to assure this. 

 

What steps should be taken to improve the overall quality of Mississippi school leaders?

Training should continue for quality teachers and teachers whose students are not performing well should be terminated. 

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?

People who know me know of my strong interest in education. I particularly believe in the value of early childhood education. That is why I have been a strong supporter and a member of the board of Bill Raspberry’s Baby Steps initiative ever since he started the program in Okolona. We have seen tremendous positive strides in parents’ interest in their child’s educational opportunities. I believe there are inventive ways to get parents involved in educational needs before students enter school such as Baby Steps.
 
 
Russell Jolly - WINNER

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.

Yes 

 

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?

Yes, plans for funding will need to be discussed and finalized in future legislative sessions.
 
 
 


 
 
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Click here for an explanation
of the 2006 MAEP vote.