It was bound to happen. For years, Mississippi Republicans have worked tirelessly to undermine public education in the state. Now, they have finally put their party's stamp of approval on it.
Early today, the Mississippi Republican Party Central Committee - not to be confused with the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China - voted unanimously to endorse the Mississippi Republican Party's opposition to public education. Some familiar faces are on this committee: Governor Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann, House Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton), and House Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden (R-Meridian).
If you recall during this year's legislative session, Gunn and Reeves rushed alternative ballot language through the legislature without any hearings or public input while threatening their rank-and-file Republicans to vote for it. Their goal: confuse the voters. During this session, Gov. Bryant pushed his private school voucher bill which will pull resources away from public schools. At the same time, Speaker Gunn has been at the beck and call of the Bomgar Caucus, an association of deep-pocketed interests that spent tens of thousands of dollars to defeat pro-public education Republican legislators in the August primaries. Just last week, Bryant and Hosemann voted to put their political talking points on the November ballot by putting misleading language before the voters. This intentionally-confusing language, mind you, was pushed by Reeves and Snowden through the Legislative Budget Office. The public has been refused access to the communication between these offices because they chose to not be transparent. Let's not forget that time Rep. Herb Frierson (R-Poplarville) threw out his scare tactics of frightening state agencies that if the state fully support public education, their agencies would see massive budget cuts - possibly leading to huge layoffs.
All these political players and all these moves have been a part of the Republicans' masterful strategy of deliberately weakening Mississippi's public education system.
Republicans can talk about how proud they are about continuing to not fully support public education and that Mississippi still pays its public school teachers less than their counterparts across the South. The truth remains that you can either be a Republican or support public education, but you cannot do both. The Republican Party's vote today proves it.