Wednesday, September 9, 2015

A Modern Day Literacy Test?

You are looking at the recently-approved sample ballot of Initiative 42, the citizen lead effort to induce the Mississippi legislature to do what they are already required to do by law: fully fund public education. 

This is a sample literacy test from days of yore.

Back then, Mississippians needed to be manipulated in order for elected officials to hold onto their power. Roadblocks at every turn were created to halt progress and expose the status quo. Ballots were made to be confusing and exhausting, misleading, and arduous. 

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

When Initiative 42 started out, it was made to be as straightforward and literal as possible. Nobody but the hardworking volunteers who set out to gather signatures expected it to be as successful as it was. So when the Republican-controlled legislature was blindsided by the results, they were forced to show their true colors and it came at a cost.

In creating an unprecedented need for a supermajority of support for 42, they tasked public school supporters with what seemed to be an insurmountable goal. Except support for fully funding education keeps growing, and efforts to "educate the public" to support the alternate amendment keep falling short.

A brave Mississippi parent, Adrian Shipman, stepped up and filed a suit against 42A, arguing that the language was nothing more than an attempt at exhausting voters.  

And that at least educated voters on what can only be described as persistent dirty tricks from the Mississippi Republican legislators.

So Rep. Herb Frierson (R-Poplarville) tried to scare other department heads into believing that their own budgets were in jeopardy. 

But those scare tactics fell short.

And now we are here. Staring at a massive block of text insisting that a single different word between the legislature's alternative and the initial wording could result in a catastrophe for Mississippi's budget.

We know not to fall for it. But every. single. Republican. that voted for this initiative amendment must be held accountable for this blatant attempt at misleading voters, and more importantly, insisting at all costs that public schools don't receive the support they deserve. 

Remember on November 3rd, friends. Not only do Republicans want to kill public schools, they will break the democratic process to do so. 

1 comment:

SoRefined said...

I grew up in Kansas, which has an education provision in the state constitution that requires the state to provide adequate free education to all the state's children. Since the early 90s, they have done this through a statewide mill levy that effectively collects taxes statewide and distributes them in such a manner (a certain number of dollars per student, per year) that folks in rural areas (which is most of them!) with lower property tax revenues are able to draw from that pool more than they put in, effectively meaning a couple of areas with the highest property values are subsidizing the rest of the state. I grew up in one of these latter areas, and because I am not a jerk, this is fine with me... but this method of funding has been in *constant* litigation since the early 90s, either from the place I grew up not wanting to subsidize small rural schools or folks in rural areas (imo, rightly) concerned that the mill levy is not keeping up with inflation, technological changes to education, etc. Right now, because of court decisions related to this issue, (basically the Kansas Supreme Court found that the state should be contributing a LOT more than it is, like $500m more per year) the legislature is effectively threatening to shut down the entire state court system in Kansas via some... really unusual legislative provisions in the budget for the courts.

I'm telling you all this because believe me, the involvement of the courts WILL have a huge budgetary impact on the ability of this amendment to have any teeth, and you definitely want the court system involved, or the legislature will really only have to pay lip service to its supposed obligation to education.