Guest Column: Holding candidates accountable for public schools

By BECKY GLOVER,

I work for Parents for Public Schools (PPS) and have meeting with Newton Co. folks about the two most significant challenges our public schools are facing: underfunding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) at the state legislative level, and privatization of public education, mainly in the form of vouchers.

As a public promise to Newton County voters, we asked both candidates, Mike Marlow and Tyler McCaughn, to answer three simple questions pledging their commitment to support public schools, teachers, and almost 3,000 children in this county who attend public schools. Both candidates were contacted by multiple methods and were given the same amount of time.

Mr. Marlow responded. Mr. McCaughn chose not to respond. 

Voters’ questions and Mr. Marlow’s responses:  

1. Fully Funding MS Public Schools:  Only twice since it was enacted in 1997 has the Legislature fully funded the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP). Will you vote for and work with us to fully fund the MAEP?

Mike Marlow:  Yes, I will vote to fully fund MAEP. It has been thru my 20 plus years volunteering and working within the public school system that has convinced me that the underfunding is detrimental to our children’s success and the success of our state. It all starts with public education.

2. Opposing Privatization Schemes:  An additional two million dollars was purposefully and deceitfully added to the existing voucher program in a non-education (Department of Finance Administration/DFA) bill during the final 48 hours of the last legislative session. Will you work with us and oppose all privatization schemes?

Mike Marlow:   Yes, I will oppose the privatization of our school system. I am 100% opposed in using tax dollars to pay for private school education.

3. Working with WTM/PPS:  Will you meet with us quarterly and be, especially, accessible and responsive during legislative sessions?

Mike Marlow:   Yes, I will always have an open door policy and meet with the organizations mentioned wherever and whenever it is needed.

Funding records show that Newton Municipal School District is underfunded by $481,195 this school year and by a total of $5,748,421 for the past 10 years. Newton Co. School District is underfunded by $919,236 this year and a total of $10,548,406 for the past 10 years.

People are shocked to learn how underfunded their public schools are, especially when they know that they (the voters) are doing their part by paying taxes. Voters are learning that the Legislature isn’t following their own law about sending their constituents’ hard-earned taxes back to their community to be reinvested into one of their main economic drivers – their public schools.

For more information, contact Becky Glover, Community Coordinator for Parents for Public Schools, at bglover@parents4publicschools.org or 601-207-0630.