Tag Archives: Initiative 42a

The Cat in the Hat Supports Initiative 42

I do not understand.
Why they say no way.
They signed on the line;
They agreed to pay.

But state Legislators refuse
To honor their education promise.
It doesn’t make sense
When it is such a simple premise!

See, it works like this,
Politicians make law
That everyone must follow
Even politicians and in-laws.

So, why the fuss?
It’s law; honor it!
Not to, doesn’t make sense
Not one little bit!

And then
Uncurling from his mat
Stretched and stood the Cat in the Hat!

We looked!
“It’s time,” said the Cat in the Hat.
We looked!
And saw a petition
In the hand of the Cat in the Hat!
And he said to us,
“Enough is enough, it’s as simple as that!”

“I know it’s hard,
And it won’t be easy.
So, don’t be afraid,
And please don’t get queasy!”

“We’ll place a petition on the ballot,”
Said the cat.
“For education we’ll take a stand.”
Said the Cat in the Hat.
“It’s the only option left to do.
Education won’t be adequately funded
Without Initiative 42.”

The teachers and children
Did not know what to say;
They’d never had a friend
To look after them that way.

But Governor Bryant said, “No! No!
Make that cat go away!
Tell that Cat in the Hat
We ain’t gonna pay!
He should not be here.
He should not be about!
He should not be here
Somebody please kick him out!”

“Now! Now! Have no fear.
Have no fear!” said the cat.
“It’s not a trick; it’s not bad,”
Said the Cat in the Hat.
“A little petition is all it is
With nearly 200,000 Mississippi names
Standing up for education
Tired of playing political games!”

“Throw it out!” said Tate Reeves.
“It’s not fair; not fair at all!”
“Throw it out!” cried Phillip Gunn.
“Initiative 42 will lead to our fall!”

“Have no fear!” said the cat.
“Initiative 42 rights a wrong.
Do your job, nothing to fear;
See a judge if the same old song.
Fund education as you promised,
And let that be that.
Fund education! We’ll leave you alone,”
Said the Cat in the Hat.

“Two can play that game!”
Said Reeves and Gunn.
“We’ll add confusion to the mix!
Initiative 42A will make it fun!”

“Look at this!
Look what you’ve done!” said the cat.
“The people don’t know if they’re between the A or T
Much less where they’re AT!
Should they choose 42 or 42A?
My oh my, what should they do?
You’re the Grinches who stole Christmas!
Mr. Gunn and Reeves, shame on you!

And look!
Now they’re running TV ads
That would scare even Stephen King!
Just to make Initiative 42 look bad!

Oh, no.
That is not all…
They tell us a black Democrat judge
Will cause Mississippi to fall!
He’ll spend school money as he pleases,
He’ll give it to his favorite schools!
And they tell us this
Because they think we’re all fools!

“But, have no fear,”
Said the cat.
“Initiative 42 is on the ballot,”
Said the Cat in the Hat.
“The ballot may look tricky,
But Mississippians are not fools;
They will see through the smoke
And vote for Initiative 42!”

The teachers and children
Did not know what to say;
They’d never had a friend
To look after them that way.

Adapted from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss by Jack Linton (October 24, 2015)

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Ten Things I learned this Past Week about Supporting Initiative 42

This past week my previous blog, “Initiative 42: Misconceptions, Lies, and THE TRUTH,” lit up like a Christmas tree. My blog has some public outreach, but it is primarily written for friends and those they share it with when they deem it worthy of sharing. Occasionally it will also be picked up by other blogs or news groups. So, I was surprised by the literally thousands of visitors who read my blog this past week. The comments I received were a mixed bag of support for Initiative 42 as well as opposition, and I enjoyed the interaction for the most part. I was truly amazed at some of the things some people believe about the Initiative as well as what they believe about education in general. The amount of credibility given to hearsay was astounding, and I certainly did not realize there are so many legal and state Constitution experts milling around Mississippi.

However, I did learn some interesting things about people and their attitudes toward education. Believe me when I say, it was sometimes frightening. One thing I learned for sure is that Mississippi education needs a public relations person. It is apparent that many people never hear about the good things happening in Mississippi education; all they hear about are the negatives, but maybe that is all they want to hear. For example, look at some of the things readers taught me this past week about Initiative 42 and education as a whole in Mississippi.

Ten Things I learned this Past Week about Supporting Initiative 42

  1. I learned there are a lot of good people in Mississippi who are confused about Initiative 42.   Thank you Governor Bryant, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves, and Speaker of the House Phillip Gunn for your leadership in misleading and confusing the issue;
  2. I learned some people are in favor of withholding education funding until such time they can be assured the money already available for education is spent wisely. Of course, that is like withholding money for maintenance on your roof until it caves in. There are state agencies responsible for fiscal responsibility, so why not demand those agencies monitor school expenditures more closely, and go after the districts wasting money (if any), but don’t punish all schools.  If people have firsthand knowledge of waste in schools, they should expose it and bring it to everyone’s attention, but don’t condemn all school districts for the actions of a few.  It is insanity to withhold education funds at the expense of children;
  3. I learned Jesus Christ could have written Initiative 42, and some people would still find excuses not to support it;
  4. I learned there are people who care more about Democrat vs Republican than they do about educating children;
  5. I learned there are teachers who are riding the fence on Initiative 42. It is unbelievable, but there are teachers who naively believe the scare tactics and half-truths portrayed as facts on television, who believe the negative hearsay, and who have made little, if any, effort to look at the issue for themselves. It is also unbelievable that there are educators who teach children to read, research, and be critical thinkers, but they don’t practice what they teach and preach;
  6. I learned that there are more lawyer wannabes in Mississippi than you can shake a stick at, and they do not mind sharing with you what they know as the legal gospel;
  7. I learned that Mississippi has an abundance of state Constitution experts even though these experts may have read only a tiny portion of the Constitution, none of it at all, or their expertise is based on what they have been told;
  8. I learned from these self-appointed legal and Constitution experts that a chancery judge has the authority to hire and fire teachers, consolidate schools, pick and choose the schools that will be funded, shut down other state agencies at his/her discretion, raise taxes, change the state flag to the LGBT flag, and forbid Santa Clause to fly over Mississippi air space.  They taught me the power of the chancery judge is unlimited, and if Mississippi doesn’t strike down Initiative 42, the chancery judge in Hinds County will have the power to disband the state Legislature, send the governor packing, and set himself up as the supreme governing authority in Mississippi;
  9. I learned many people can’t stop thinking about themselves and their pocketbooks long enough to understand that education is expensive but ignorance is even more expensive;
  10. BUT, the biggest thing I learned was that supporting Initiative 42 is well worth the fuss and putting up with the unfounded hysteria. This past week reinforced what I have always known – KIDS and TEACHERS are worth the fight!

With all the huffing and puffing surrounding Initiative 42, it is important to remember the Initiative is about teachers and kids, and it is about making education a priority in Mississippi. It is NOT about school administrators, school consolidation, a judge in Hinds County, or any other smokescreen the education naysayers insert into the discussion. It is also important to understand making education a priority is up to the voters for one reason and one reason only – the Mississippi Legislature has proven year after year that education IS NOT their priority. My only purpose in writing about this issue is to encourage teachers and parents to take a stand for education. Although Mississippi will continue to have school regardless of the outcome of the vote for Initiative 42, the question is will the schools have funding to give our children a quality education, or will Mississippi continue to treat education as an afterthought. Through Initiative 42 nearly 200,000 Mississippi citizens have already petitioned for education to be treated as a priority, and now it is time for all citizens and especially teachers to stand up and join the fight. The state Legislature is counting on teachers being timid, frightened, and apathetic on this issue. I sincerely pray that for once teachers will stand together and prove them wrong.

JL

©Jack Linton, October 17, 2015

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

2015 Legislators vs Educators: The Fight to Keep Mississippi on the Bottom

Governor Phil Bryant says the majority of the public is against the Common Core Standards, so he and the state legislators are obligated to help the public get what it wants by ousting the standards from state schools. However, when a petition requiring Mississippi fully fund education by amending the state constitution was signed by over 116,000 certified voters, the Governor hedged on supporting the public’s will in favor of supporting an alternative proposal by the state legislature designed to confuse the issue and almost assuredly defeat the public initiative. What gives? Does the Governor support the public or not? He is clear about his opposition to the Common Core Standards, and it is obvious he doesn’t support fully funding MAEP. So, when it comes to education, what does he support; what does he really want? He says he wants to see results. He claims too much money has been thrown at education with too little to show for it. He argues money is not the answer, but how would he know since he has played a significant role in short changing Mississippi K-12 education by 1.5 billion dollars over the past several years. His argument for results before funding or standards doesn’t hold water; to get results that lift Mississippi off the bottom of student performance, there must be adequate funding and rigorous standards in place, but maybe results are not the real reason behind his war on education.

Educators across Mississippi agree there is room for improvement, and they would like nothing better than to provide the Governor and state legislators the results they want to see. However, they are met with resistance from the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and state legislators at every turn. Why? It would be hard to believe the legislators are diabolical people out to get educators, but something smells in Mississippi. It seems the mindset in Jackson is to do whatever it takes to tear down K-12 education in the state, but to what end? Why are so many state legislators opposing more rigorous standards and full funding for education in one breath while calling for better student performance results in another? Many of these people are business men and women, so they should understand that outcomes are achieved in direct proportion to what you put in – whether it is in private business or education. You get what you pay and prepare for, so what gives in the Mississippi legislature?

It is becoming clear that opponents in the state legislature to rigorous standards and full funding of education want to keep Mississippi where it has been for over a hundred years – on the bottom educationally and economically. The Governor, Lieutenant Governor and many state legislators have never had any intention of fully funding education nor have they been serious about improving rigor and student achievement in the classroom. They want to ensure the present balance of the “haves” and the “have nots;” that is where their power lies, but of course, there is no balance between the two. Without rigorous education standards to challenge the state’s children as well as adequate funding to keep quality teachers in the classrooms, pay for resources and programs, and maintain adequate facilities, Mississippi is guaranteed to maintain its current socioeconomic imbalance, cheap labor force, and the submissive “Yes, Master” mentality of the poor. Adam Smith who is often cited as the “father of modern economics,” probably said it best, “The real tragedy of the poor is the poverty of their aspirations.” In Mississippi the aspirations of the “have nots” have never known equality with the “haves,” nor can they ever hope or dream of true equality in their fight for true liberty and pursuit of happiness without an education to give wings to their aspirations. Without properly educating all children, Mississippi’s perennial position of last in just about every education and economic category will continue unabated.

If the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and the many legislators who have made it clear they have given up on children, teachers, and Mississippi education as a whole get their way, the only thing we will need to seal the deal as permanent bottom dwellers will be a state symbol for education in Mississippi. We have a state bird, state flower, and maybe soon even a state book. All these symbols, the mockingbird, the magnolia, and the Bible tell who we are as Mississippians. If the Common Core Standards are cast out and full funding of MAEP is not upheld, maybe the perfect state symbol for education would be a crumbling school house. What symbol would better explain our state leadership, our priorities, and who we are as Mississippians?

JL

©Jack Linton, January 18, 2015