Initiative 42: Misconceptions, Lies, and THE TRUTH

I have been asked to share my perspectives on Initiative 42. First, I am honored to have been asked since there are people who could share their insight much more eloquently. That I am a supporter of Initiative 42 is no secret. That I have been troubled by the underhanded actions of those opposed to the Initiative is also no secret. Everyone has a right to their viewpoint as well as a right to take an opposing stand, but when lies and misinformation are blatantly told as truths, the boundaries of decency and integrity are breached. It is an injustice to intentionally mislead anyone, but especially citizens who want so desperately do the right thing. How can people be expected to make the right choice when they are relentlessly subjected to misleading information that has only one purpose and that is to confuse? Unfortunately, opponents of Initiative 42 have done an excellent job confusing the public about Initiative 42. I can only hope in these last days before the November election that more people will discover the truth and take issue with those trying so desperately to destroy public education in Mississippi.

Personally, professionally, and financially, I have nothing to gain by presenting my views on this issue other than the satisfaction of doing my best to help kids get a better education.   My purpose with this article is to separate the facts from the fiction. To do so, I have looked closely at both Initiatives 42 and 42A, researched news articles dealing with the debate over these issues, listened to people both for and against Initiative 42, and drawn, to a small extent, on my 37 years as an educator. In an effort to bring about clarity, I have broken the issue into two informative charts: Chart I: A Comparison of Initiative 42 Supporters and Opponents, and Chart II: Initiative 42, Misinformation and THE TRUTH. The charts represent the truth as I understand it, and they are backed by facts available to anyone with a little determination and willingness to research and read to get at the truth.

Chart I: A Comparison of Initiative 42 Supporters and Opponents

Public Education Funding Supporters Public Education Funding Opponents
History The state Legislature passed a law in 1997 that mandated that MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Plan) be fully funded each year. The legislators promised to provide each public school district in Mississippi enough financial support to adequately fund K-12 education. The state Legislature has honored the 1997 law only twice in 18 years.
At Issue Supporters want state legislators to be held accountable to the 1997 law. The state legislators claim they should not be held accountable to a law passed by a previous legislative session.   With the exception of two years, they have refused to fully fund public school education as required by the 1997 law.
Citizens vs state legislators Over 188,000 Mississippi citizens concerned that state legislators consistently ignored the 1997 MAEP law, signed petitions to place Initiative 42 on the November 2015 ballot. For the first time in Mississippi history the state legislators countered a citizen led initiative by placing Initiative 42A on the November ballot.
What does each Initiative do?
  • Initiative 42 requires legislators follow the law and fully fund public education based on the MAEP formula
  • Initiative 42 will protect each child’s fundamental educational rights through the 12th grade by amending Section 201 of the Mississippi Constitution to require that the state maintain and support an adequate and efficient system of free public schools.
  • Initiative 42 will authorize a chancery court to enforce the law to adequately fund public schools   A court ruling would require the Legislature to follow the law/Constitution.
  • Initiative 42A basically changes nothing.
  • Initiative 42A will allow legislators to continue to ignore the law and fund education at their discretion.
  • Initiative 42A does not provide any additional funding nor does it require legislators to honor the 1997 funding law.
  • Initiative 42A provides no accountability for funding public education.
  • Initiative 42A is a political ploy to confuse the public.

Chart II: Initiative 42, Misinformation and THE TRUTH

Misinformation and Lies about Initiative 42 THE TRUTH
1 If Initiative 42 passes, one judge in Hinds County will have the final say on how school money is spent.

 

THE TRUTH: A Hinds County judge will not be needed if the Legislature fully funds MAEP. If the Legislature fails to fully fund MAEP, a Hinds County judge will hear the issue since Jackson is in Hinds County and that is where the state legislature convenes. Any decision the judge makes can be appealed to the State Supreme Court, so a single judge does not have the final decision. Finally, the judge cannot make decisions regarding how or where state education funding is spent. How education money is spent is a local school district decision.
2 If Initiative 42 passes, a judge in Hinds County will be able to take money from one school and give it to another. THE TRUTH: The idea that a judge could take money from one school and give it to another was fabricated by a political group opposed to Initiative 42.   As Sam Hall, writer for the Jackson Clarion Ledger said, “The ad by Improve Mississippi Political Initiative Committee is the worst kind of scare tactic and downright lie yet used. He went on to describe the ad as “the lowest kind of politics there is.”   There is nothing in Initiative 42 that gives a judge the authority to take money from one school district and give it to another school.
3 If Initiative 42 passes, one judge in Hinds County will have the power to force schools to consolidate, THE TRUTH: Nowhere in Initiative 42 is consolidation of school districts mentioned.   However, opponents of Initiative 42 want the public to believe that if they vote for Initiative 42, they will lose their school district. School consolidation falls under the power of the Governor and state legislators.   The Governor and state legislators decide when and if schools are to be consolidated.
4 If Initiative 42 is passed, increased funds will go to pay for administrator salaries and not go to the children in the classrooms. THE TRUTH: MAEP funds pay for teacher salaries and instructional materials. Administrator salaries are set by local school boards and are completely under local school district control.
5 If Initiative 42 is passed, the budgets of other state agencies will have to be cut. THE TRUTH: The petition signed by nearly 200,000 Mississippi citizens included a full description of a six to seven year phase in process. Therefore, passing Initiative 42 will not result in other state agency budgets being cut. Increases in school funding would also be dependent upon state revenue increases.
6 If Initiative 42 is passed, taxes will be raised. THE TRUTH: Raising taxes is not required if Initiative 42 passes. According to House Speaker, Phillip Gunn, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, Mississippi has enough money to fund all state services without raising taxes. In fact, at the end of the 2015 legislative session, they rose in support of eliminating state income taxes altogether. If Mississippi can afford to eliminate state income taxes, which accounts for about 40% of the state’s revenue, it is safe to say there will not be a need to raise taxes to support education or any other state budget. Raising taxes is a scare tactic used by opponents of Initiative 42.

Whether readers take to heart what I have to say is up to each individual reader, but I am committed to support all children, and I can assure you I will sleep well the night of Tuesday, November 3, 2015, knowing I have voted for Initiative 42 because it is best for not only my grandchildren, but all Mississippi children as well. My alma mater has a slogan during football season, “Southern Miss to the Top!” Wouldn’t it be great if by November 3 we had all Mississippians shouting, “Initiative 42 to the Top!” I bet that would put an uncomfortable wad in the panties of Governor Bryant and other state legislators so set on underfunding public school education.

INITIATIVE 42 to the TOP!

JL

Jack Linton, October 9, 2015

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45 thoughts on “Initiative 42: Misconceptions, Lies, and THE TRUTH

  1. someoneinnorthms

    I have finally been persuaded to vote yes on 42.

    I am a lawyer, as Dr. Linton pointed out (sorry I didn’t realize you hold a Ph.D.; I haven’t been calling you by the correct title). I fancy myself a bit of a constitutional scholar, and I like to think I’m creative in my legal endeavors. So, I finally see where this amendment will benefit me, personally, and I have decided to change my tune.

    I am drafting a form complaint to be used in the event a child fails to obtain his high school diploma. It can be filed locally (nothing in the text requires venue in any particular place) against the local school board. The necessary proof would be simply that the student didn’t receive and adequate education efficiently provided to him. Because that student would have a fundamental right to adequate and efficiently-provided education, injunction would lie against the school board. I would only ask for two forms of relief: a diploma for the child so miserably failed by the system and attorneys fees so he can pay his humble, hardworking, Mississippi public school educated lawyer. I see absolutely no reason why this would not work under the language of 42. Please, other lawyers (and especially fellow 42 supporters), tell me where I’ve gone wrong.

    For those not recognizing sarcasm, I fully intend to vote against 42. But, if you give me the opportunity to make five or ten thousand dollars a pop to get little Johnny his diploma, I’ll gladly take it. I have children myself. They’ll appreciate your support.

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  2. Heather S

    Your blog has been very informative, and I appreciate your willingness to take time to clear up the issue.
    I am an avid proponent of Public Education in the state of Mississippi. My mother taught in the public schools for 30 years before retiring. My sister and I both graduated from Public Schools which we attended from K-12 grades. I would love nothing more than to have our education system fully funded, but the reality is the funding is not there.
    You tout that the legislators stood for elimination of State income tax, claiming that this verifies the availability of funding for our schools. But, you fail to mention where the funds to replace said eliminated state income tax will come from. As a former resident of Florida, a state with no state income tax, I can assure you that the tax increases will be made in other areas in order to replace the eliminated funds. In FL, for example, the funds are replaced through higher property taxes, higher priced car tags, higher priced DL renewal fees, and more.
    You also claim that the funds from MAEP will be used for Students and Teachers, but not to pay administration. You are partially correct here. Since teachers are paid by the state of MS, I am sure the funding will go to pay their salaries. However, the purchasing of materials for individual schools and districts is at the discretion of the School Board and Superintendent. There is no guarantee that this funding will be distributed appropriately, fairly, or, for that matter, to the liking of all (parents, students, alumni, faculty, etc.) in the school districts. While an internal or state audit to ensure appropriate use of the funds may keep everyone in check, it is highly unlikely. The only way to guarantee, in my opinion at least, that the money is used appropriately and for the benefit of students is for the state to manage the disbursement and use of the funds by each school district. The eventual outcome of this, again in my opinion, is state chosen and state designed education, through a program such as common core(which is aN entirely different discussion for another day). Which, to a staunch conservative such as myself, smells an awful lot like socialism. I mean, not to be all doom and gloom but, what’s next? The loss of State’s rights in favor of Federally mandated and designed education programs? (Is this Hitler’s Eastern Europe of the 30’s and 40’s or 21st Century America?)
    I digress. While I do appreciate your input and opinion, for a blog claiming to debunk the misconceptions and lies related to Initiative 42, you’re leaning a little too far in one direction to truly provide an impartial view to the reader. Feel free to challenge my arguments, and correct any misconceptions. I do, truly, want to be as informed as possible. But, I beg you, and all voters, to look at the bigger picture here and think about what is truly at stake in this vote.

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  3. Uneedtoknow

    First off, the schools need consolidation into the county school district. Then we can talk about education needing funded!

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    1. jlinton77 Post author

      There are two major barriers to consolidation: First, the state Legislature. The Legislature must approve any consolidation effort, and that is hard to do since so many legislators are afraid of losing votes if they approve consolidation in their home district. The second barrier is local control. Communities do not want to lose local control of their schools, so they will fight consolidation. When it comes to consolidation, it is out of the hands of the educators. The fight against consolidation is between the state legislators and the local communities. Not supporting Initiative 42 will not expedite consolidation of schools in Mississippi.

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  4. Anonymous

    How about the actual language on the ballot (strikethrough lines indicate changes to the constitution):

    SECTION 201. To protect each child’s fundamental right to educational
    opportunity, The Legislature the State shall, by general law, provide for the
    establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free
    public schools upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may
    provide. The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this
    section with appropriate injunctive relief.

    That’s it. That’s all that’s being voted on. Nothing about phase-ins.

    And absolutely zero – nothing – about fulling funding anything – not how much, not how, not when, nada.

    It simply gives partisan (and likely out of state) attorneys a free pass to take the definitions of “efficient” and “adequate” to the courts, out of reach of elected representatives voted in by the populace, and order up the system they want.

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    1. jlinton77 Post author

      Sorry about the delay in responding. Adequate is determined by the MAEP formula, which was established in 1997 by the state Legislature. All the state Legislature has to do is follow the law and fully fund MAEP (adequate funding based on the formula established by law). As for out of reach of elected officials, our state elected officials have had a straggle hold on public education for years, and they have had few qualms about ordering up the system they want by ignoring the system established by law. Sorry, but as a former educator, I fear their continued indifference to education more than I do the courts.

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  5. Anonymous

    Absolutely wrong. The 5 to 7 year phase-in was printed on the back of the original petition document garnering signatures to help persuade people to sign. Who can be against a 7 year phase in? This mythical schedule is not binding, is irrelevant, and is not in the language being voted on. The legislature will not have the option to “phase in” anything and not be in violation of the constitution. TRUTH: Prop 42 is simply a mechanism to dispense with representative government in Mississippi.

    VOTE NEITHER THEN 42A if you like living in a representative system. If you don’t like how your elected representative is voting on K-12 education – remove him/her from office. If you like judicial tyranny, by all means vote for 42.

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    1. jlinton77 Post author

      Funny you mention tyranny; that is exactly what K-12 educators have lived under for many years. Tyrants do not follow the law or they bend it in their favor. That is exactly what the state Legislature has been doing since 1997.

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      1. Anonymous

        No – legislators are accountable to the electorate and can be voted out. If the people decide they want alternate decision-makers in office, they can see to it. Not so with judges/justices. Once again, MAEP, though law, is one of many laws in the overall pie of funding. It isn’t “super law” and does not trump constitutional representative government and the most fundamental roles of both houses regarding funding. While things may not have gone your way – it was never tyranny. The latter is what Prop 42 seeks to install — judicial fiat.

        Once again, back to the original point – there is no such thing as the phase-in. The language being voted on is the language being voted on. Period.

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      2. jlinton77 Post author

        Thank you for your opinions, I wish this had worked out like it should have with our Legislature following the law. If they had, we would not be where we are today. Initiative 42 is not circumventing the process, but rather using the process established by law to right the system when it is not working properly. It has not worked properly for a long time.

        Also, a huge thank you to everyone who read and commented on the blog both supporters and nonsupporters. I wrote the blog to dispel some of the misinformation going around about Initiative 42, and I followed that for the past three days with an open venue for supporters and opponents. I have posted all comments along with my replies regardless of the reader’s stand on this issue. I feel I have addressed each issue either through the blog or through replies to reader comments even when some comments have taken on the redundancy of a dog chasing its tail.

        I encourage each and every one of you to read, study, and continue to discuss this important issue. We have too many people making up their mind based on what someone else told them. THINK for yourself, even if you agree or disagree with me. This issue is about what is best for our children, so the decision to support or not support Initiative 42 is too important to be decided by heresay.

        Jim Keith, a Mississippi attorney who is recognized as one of the best education attorneys in the nation, sums it up best by saying, “Initiative 42, simply adds language in the Mississippi Constitution making education the priority it is in the constitutions of other states.”

        Isn’t it time, Mississippi children were a priority?

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    2. 2chancefamily

      I agree! The proposed amendment as it is worded on the ballot says nothing about “funding” or “MAEP.” All one has to do is read it to see that those words are not mentioned. If it is about fundng, then why didn’t the proponents explicitly say that in the proposed amendment? The initiative says nothing about phasing in the funding over 7 seven years, either. Again, such a change should be clearly outlined. The ambiguity concerns me. No judge should be given that much power. A judge in Hinds county is only elected by citizens in HInds county. Therefore, the other residents of Mississippi have no voice. If people don’t like what the legislature is doing with education in MS, vote them out. Do not give the power to the judiciary. We must think about all the implications of this initiative. This is about far more than funding. The ambiguity of the proposed amendment is vague, and it was worded that way intentionally. I do not trust any group that wants to take power away from the people and give it to the judiciary.

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  6. Lois Ann Necaise

    Why do all of us law abiding citizens have to obey laws passed by the legislature or suffer the consequences, but they as law makers don’t have to & especially on something as important as the leaders of the future?!

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      1. Anonymous

        State statutes are full of laws that cannot always be fully funded. The state’s community colleges – the #1 system in the United States according to Wallethub.com and others – is to be funded at mid-point, exactly halfway proportionately between K-12 and the universities. It isn’t close at this time. You can go on and on. We had a recession in 2008-09 that approached the Great Depression. MDE has never been funded at a higher level than it is now. Underlying all of these laws – ultimately it is our legislature, based on our principles of representative government, to distribute funds. ALL – 100% – of the funds simply are not there. You can’t pay out what isn’t there. This bottom line responsibility trumps these laws that accumulate over the years, as recently confirmed by Mr. Musgrove’s defeat in court.

        Laws are statutory. Representative government is constitutional. The latter takes precedent.

        This in fact is what 42 is all about – remove the inconvenience of representative government and live under judicial fiat.

        You are completely wrong, or disingenuous, about what the courts can’t do under 42. The courts most certainly can consolidate, etc. if deemed “efficient.” They most certainly can order a new system of 4-year old kindergartens if deemed “adequate.” The language we are actually voting on – forget blog posts and phase-ins on the backs of petitions – says absolutely nothing about funding. It is all about what is efficient and adequate. And it bypasses the legislature to go to court.

        How about paved roads? Let’s bypass the legislature to install paved roads as a right to every resident and force that effort’s “full funding.” You are seeing here the effort to unwind the entire system of representative government and compromise. No – declare what you want as a “right,” convince, through whatever rhetoric necessary, enough people to change the constitution, and be satisfied with tyranny as long as it goes the way you want. At least for now.

        You already have a redress if your representative is not voting for MDE funding as you prefer. Vote against him/her. Campaign against him/her. But that isn’t enough for 42 advocates.

        Funny there was not constitutional crisis when Democrats held both houses for so long, with the same 50th rated K12 system we have now. What has changed?

        There is no phase-in. The promised across the board cuts are not the deception, the phase-in is the deception.

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      2. jlinton77 Post author

        After spending 37 years as an educator (32 in public schools), sending my three children to public schools, and now with six grandchildren in Mississippi public schools, I think it would be honest and fair to say I am probably a bit bias when it comes to doing what is right for public school children and their teachers. There would not be an Initiative 42 if our state Legislature had honored the law and funded education based on the MAEP formula. I respect the concern you express, but I am looking at the “bigger picture.” For me, the bigger picture is the education and future of the children of Mississippi. This fight is not about me or any other adult getting our way; it is about doing what must be done to ensure a better future for our children and grandchildren. I was born and raised in this state, and I am proud to be a Mississippian, but I am not proud that Mississippi remains last in education year after year after year. Unfortunately, that seems to be okay with many people, but it is not okay with me, and it is not okay for my grandchildren. I am not asking for any more than the children of this state have been promised. Passing Initiative 42 is not for me (I have my PhD, and I have completed my career), it is for all the children who have their lives and careers in front of them. The information I have provided is as impartial as any information you will find on this issue. I did not base my information on television ads or hearsay; the information I presented came from reliable resources. The same cannot be said for the negative information being circulated about Initiative 42. Yes, I ask everyone to vote for Initiative 42, but I also tell everyone to study the issue and decide for themselves. There is no excuse for anyone making a decision on this issue based on television ads and/or hearsay. When it comes to education, I trusted my elected officials to make education a priority, yet they consistently thumbed their noses at me and my family; therefore, I have no choice left but to put my trust in the hands of the courts if need be.

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    1. someoneinnorthms

      Will you be voting for your incumbent representatives–state and federal–over and over again? If you want to punish those elected officials who do not do what you want . . . vote them out. Better yet, sign your name on the dotted line and stand for election yourself.

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      1. jlinton77 Post author

        Being an Independent, I will do by best to vote for the man or woman I believe can do the best job for our state or nation. My vote whether it is for an incumbent or someone new on the scene is not about punishment. I vote for the man or woman who has proven they will place the best interest of the people over politics, or I vote to give someone else a chance who advocates for the people and not a political party or political agenda. That does not mean I will not vote for a Democrat or Republican; it simply means I will vote for the man or woman who I believe is best for the job. As for standing for election, who knows? As people who know me can tell you, I am not one who is enamored with Democratic or Republican political agendas, so I probably would not make a very viable candidate.

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  7. Ms.Mac

    I fully understand that top heavy districts are a problem that must be handled at the local level. However, since many of these positions are appointed and/or will not be effected by this election cycle, how do we ensure that funds won’t be mis allocated or flat out wasted for the next several years UNTIL the local citizens can address the issue? (Yes, I’m a teacher. Yes, that was a run on sentence.) Secondly, considering the top heavy administrations have been in place and continue to grow for the past several years to no avail, how can we ensure that the problem will even be dealt with? I know what these teachers have to work with and I see their struggles. I also see what administrators have to deal with and it keeps them so busy they can’t support their teachers. So overall morale is an all time low. We have issues within the MDE that first and foremost need to be addressed before we can tell anyone below them how to do their job. I KNOW our education system needs an overhaul, but I’m seriously concerned about where the money will REALLY go. I would love to believe it will make its way to my daughter’s classroom, but I just can’t because of past activities. And how can we ensure that this won’t be spent on furthering the use of CCSS, which the majority has overwhelmingly said they DONT want? Once we’ve spent millions on the implementation of the standards, it will be far harder to take them out and allow teachers to actually teach.

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    1. jlinton77 Post author

      Your concerns come across loud and clear as someone who has been there as well as someone who genuinely cares. The funding Initiative 42 is seeking is MAEP funds that rightfully belong to the teachers and kids. MAEP money is not spent on administrators; it is spent on resources for teachers and students. As for CCSS, that is another matter altogether that has yet to be finalized. You may be right about MDE, but it is hard for anyone to do their job including MDE when their authority over education policy is constantly being undermined by the Governor. As for where will the money go? As it now stands, the money is certainly not going to teachers and students even though by law it belongs to them. For teachers supporting Initiative 42 is the best option/chance they have had in years. One last point, the chances of the money reaching your daughter’s desk is much better with Initiative 42 than without it.

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    1. someoneinnorthms

      I’m not sure Mr. Linton got his figure of 17%, but I believe it is wrong. If he means 17% of ALL money brought into the state, then he may be right. However, money brought into the state is not always free. Much of it (if not MOST) of it must be spent on those budget items to which it is dedicated. A good example is the gasoline tax that is required to be spent on roads and bridges.

      Of the amount that can be spent freely, 47% goes to K-12 education.

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      1. jlinton77 Post author

        You are correct. Education accounts for approximately 17% of all state expenditures, and it accounts for 39-47% of expenditures in the state general fund. I sincerely apologize if I was less than clear on any numbers I have presented.

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  8. Randy Allen

    You continue to dance around the issue of the excess superintendents .42,as it stands would be approved easily if this was addressed. The Superintendents Association is who you are supporting, not the school children. Don’t accuse conservative lawmakers and taxpayers of being political just because you have to support a lobbying group.

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    1. jlinton77 Post author

      Sorry, but the only dancing going on is with you. If superintendents are the hang up for not supporting Intiative 42, that issue is a local issue that needs to be addressed locally. It has little if anything to do with funding education under Initiative 42. Using this Initiative to chase personal rabbits is wrong. To catch a rabbit, go to hole, don’t look for it where it doesn’t live and get mad when you can’t catch it. I am all for addressing the superintendent issue if that is needed, but let’s not use it as a smokescreen for personal agendas. Let’s focus on getting the teachers and kids what they need, and then move to superintendents or whatever.

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      1. jlinton77 Post author

        K-12 education accounts for 17% of Mississippi’s overall budget. K-12 education accounts for 19% of Louisianna’s overall budget and 20% of Alabama’s overall budget.

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  9. retiredteacher

    I am 100% in favor of adequately funding education, but not until we fix a broken system that involves misspent funding, redundant programs, and too much administration. In my 29 years of teaching, I witnessed waste at an unbelievable level. I’ve also done research that show that the amount of funding doesn’t correlate to high performance. Of the top 10 districts (based on $ per student), none is a high performing district, and only one rates even a “C.” The #1 district (which is funded at a rate of over $18,000 per student) is dead last in % of funding spent on instruction, but #1 in the % of funding that is spent on administration. All of this information can be found on the State Superintendent of Education’s website. We don’t need to throw even more money at a broken ssystem. Fix the system first; fully fund second.

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    1. jlinton77 Post author

      The number of administrators in a district is a local issue not a state issue. While I agree with you money does not always equate to higher performance, money is nevertheless needed to provide the basic services, resources, teachers, and facilities to operate schools. Withholding needed funding until all problems are fixed does not make sense. There are mechanisms in place to monitor and take action against waste, and when we talk about tax dollars being spent, the mechanisms should be administered. Superintendents and local school boards as well as all employees in a school district should be held accountable for expenses. If there is waste, it should be sought out and ended immediately. However, the vast majority of school districts are doing the best they can do to make tight budgets work. In 37 years, I never saw the waste you have apparently seen, but that does not mean it doesn’t exist. Audits need to be conducted in all school districts, and if there is waste, it should be corrected and the ones responsible held accountable. The last four years I worked as an educator, I watched the budget cut in my school district four consecutive years as well as administrators and teacher salaries cut each year. For the record, we were one of the top performing school districts in the state; is it fair to the teachers and students in the districts who are not broken (there are many) to be penalized for a few who need overseeing and better management? Oversight of the system may need addressing, but the system itself – administrators, teachers, and students – is not broken. They need your support.

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  10. someoneinnorthms

    I’m asking a serious and direct question here, and I hope you’ll answer it seriously. What relief would be requested by a petitioner/plaintiff in a suit filed in a chancery court under this amendment to the Constitution?

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    1. jlinton77 Post author

      Thank you for the direct question minus the sarcasm; I wish that was how we started. We may never agree on this issue, but there are many many great teachers in this state, and you nor I would be where we are without good teachers in our lives. Condemning all teachers as incompetent is like condemning all lawyers as shysters and crooks; it isn’t fair or professional.

      In answer to your question: If the Legislature does not meet its MAEP obligations as outlined by the 1997 state law, the relief asked for would be in the form of appropriate injunctive relief only and not for money. Such a petition is using the authority of the court to handle a problem, which in this case would be the Legislature’s failure to follow the 1997 law. The request for relief would be to ask the court to order the state to fulfill its obligation to the law and fund MAEP according to the law or be faced with contempt of court. Of course, being a lawyer you know this better than I do; therefore, I checked to be sure I was correct on my limited legal understanding. If you have an opposing understanding, please enlighten me, and I will be glad to check again with my souces.

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      1. someoneinnorthms

        So, they ask for money, which comes from somewhere. Either by reducing the other budget items or by raising taxes.

        I never once condemned teachers. Teachers taught me; money didn’t. I recognize that there is a limited amount of money necessary for infrastructure and salaries, but this incessant money grab is getting out if hand. I’ve never criticized a teacher. In fact, if “education” supporters would get out of their way, we already have an abundance of real teachers ready to do the job. I can still name 41 excellent public school teachers who taught me how to think for myself. I can add and subtract. The answer isn’t more money. It never has been.

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      2. jlinton77 Post author

        Sorry, if I misunderstood you, but your original tone and expressions such as “educamacated” and “more money gooder” apparently confused the issue. As for the money grabbing issues you are referring to, I worked in education for 37 years and I can assure you there was no money grabbing taking place in the school districts I worked. The last four years I worked prior to retiring not only did I not get a raise, but I took a pay cut each year. Those cuts not only impacted my family, but impacted my retirement as well. Budgets in all departments in the school district were also cut by as much 15% each year. We operated on a skeleton budget. The district was also not administrator heavy at central office where a superintendent and one assistant superintendent managed the affairs of 4,000 students not including the employees of the school district. There are school districts in dire need of money who would gladly grab whatever crumbs offered, but even those are hard to come by. I agree with you that more money will not resolve all problems. That will take holding districts accountable for each tax dollar they receive through scheduled internal audits that include more than a cpa coming in once every year and looking over the books. It does not make sense when the Governor and Speaker of the House tout doing away with the state income tax and then turn around and say there is not enough money to fund education. It does not make sense when Nissan is awarded 1.3 billion dollars in tax breaks and education is shortchanged 1.7 billion dollars since 2009. Like you, I am not for money grabbing, but I am for teachers and kids getting what has been promised them.

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  11. someoneinnorthms

    I should not have engaged in ad hominem attacks, nor should I have hurled invective. For that, I am sorry.

    You should not have failed to engage me on this issues. For that, YOU are sorry. Would you care to tell me how I am wrong, or will you shallowly continue to bleat, “money good, more money gooder?”

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    1. jlinton77 Post author

      First, you should be sorry for your uncalled for attack. Second, I did not fail to engage your issues. Your issues were clearly addressed in the blog, and the remainder of your first correspondence came across as little more than opinion and sarcasm. Third, it is always best to engage a shallow sarcastic mind as little as possible.

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  12. someoneinnorthms

    I bet you don’t have the guts to let my post go through moderation. I have never seen an “education” advocate that allowed a free discussion of the topic of forcing taxpayers to pay for the product you give us.

    And, for the record, I’m a product of Mississippi public schools. You and your followers should have an easy time taking apart my arguments. After all, I ain’t so smart. I was raised up and educamacated without hardly any monies to make me smart.

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  13. someoneinnorthms

    I am afraid that you misunderstand what injunctive relief entails. Furthermore, as chancery court is a court of equity, it will have the power to fashion a remedy suitable to meet the injury proven to the court. Thus, although I don’t practice much civil law, I fail to see why a chancery court would NOT have the ability to raise taxes, consolidate schools, allocate funding to counties disproportionately, or even to award diplomas to students despite their failing grades.

    Initiative 42 represents a HUGE encroachment on the separation of powers. Our state constitution set up a system whereby our elected senators and representatives vote on what taxes to levy and how those revenues are spent. They are directly accountable to the citizens they represent. If they fail to do as we please, we should not abdicate democracy. It is our own fault if our elected representatives do not do as we wish.

    The answer is certainly not to turn over the keys to the public fisc to one chancery judge in Hinds County. This is tantamount to allowing Hinds County to elect a monarch to govern the whole state. You correctly identify the fact that the Mississippi Supreme Court would review the opinions of the chancellor/king. However, you fail to recognize that the Supremes only review for errors of law. A chancellor can reach whatever decision he/she wants by fiat, with only the mildest of review.

    How about this instead? How about we stop electing superintendents from a limited field of applicants (i.e. citizens of the county)? Let’s open up positions of leadership to anyone who cares to apply. If counties hire from outside their citizenry, they can probably obtain better qualified, more dedicated superintendents who do not feel the need to worry about whether they should pass a failing student because his family has a lot of votes. They can be freed from the pressure to find jobs for friends, relatives, and/or campaign workers. Instead, they can worry about one thing: Why Johnny Can’t Read.

    Throwing money at a problem has never solved it. It’s my understanding that public schools in Washington DC spend more per capita on education than any other place in our country. Yet their system routinely spits out under-achieving products. Now that “education” advocates have maxed out their political capital and sapped the political will of our elected representatives, those same advocates want to take away the power of those representatives to do the very thing–the most fundamental thing; what we found revolutions for–that is at the core of their duties. I mean the power to lay and collect taxes and to distribute them according to the will of the people.

    If 42 passes, it will be due largely to the efforts of “education” advocates over the last few decades. And, I don’t mean that as a compliment. This vote is the best “assessment measure” yet to determine whether public school students actually learned anything, despite the best efforts of the advocates. If they learned math, they know it doesn’t add up. If they learned government, they’ll know it violates the separation of powers. If they learned psychology, they’ll know that human nature desires ever increasing money even in the absence of results. If they learned history, they will remember the chicanery of King George III and how he tried to trick the people into paying more taxes without allowing them representation. If the people learned . . . they will vote 42 down. But, because it’s “all for the children,” and because public education has failed from lack of will and not from lack of money, 42 will probably pass. It will be your fault when the tea goes into the Barnett Reservoir.

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    1. jlinton77 Post author

      Thank you for taking time to read the blog and express your opinion. I will take my chances with the unlikelihood of the tea going into the Barnett Reservoir.

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  14. Pingback: Mississippi Education Blog | Linton: Initiative 42: Misconceptions, Lies, and THE TRUTH

      1. Buster

        Where will I be to locate the information you mention about Jim Keith being one of the best education lawyers in the nation? “Jim Keith, a Mississippi attorney who is recognized as one of the best education attorneys in the nation”

        If you were involved in getting this initiative off the ground, would you address why the proposed amendment did not mention accountability for the school districts(as you mentioned above ” will take holding districts accountable “)

        Jack, for clarification can give your background in education and if you are still in the education business today?

        Thanks

        (disclosure: I was a teacher, my wife, mother, sister and daughter are all public school educators)

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      2. jlinton77 Post author

        I retired after 32 years as a public school educator and 5 years as a private school educator. I spent 16 years as a high school classroom teacher, 5 years as a high school assistant principal, 10 years as a high school principal, and 6 years as assistant superintendent. I have a BS degree from The University of Southern Mississippi, a Masters degree from William Carey University, and a PhD from The University of Southern Mississippi. I also have a son and daughter-in-law who are public school teachers.

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