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
- 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;
- 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;
- I learned Jesus Christ could have written Initiative 42, and some people would still find excuses not to support it;
- I learned there are people who care more about Democrat vs Republican than they do about educating children;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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;
- 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.
©Jack Linton, October 17, 2015