Tuesday, January 5, 2016

What To Expect: A New Year, Same Tired Republican Excuses

This is Part 2 of a series this week highlighting what to expect from the Mississippi Legislature this session.

If the very calculated and well-funded defeat of Initiative 42 did not clearly spell out that the Republicans are not for the funding of a public education system, there is not much else we could say on this blog to prove this fact to you. 

The problem is, our education system needs an infusion of money. We can go round and round about where the money should come from, how it should be spent on kids and not administration, and on and on and on. But the fact remains, quality people and facilities cost money. Money that our schools do not have, as repeated over and over again during the Initiative 42 battle. Money that is needed – money to pay for teachers, money to pay for walls and roofs, money to pay for textbooks and working computers.

With all those big businesses and lobbyists and associations backing the anti-Initiative 42 on behalf of Gov. Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and Speaker Gunn, all three are now beholden to them and their wish list of tax breaks and incentives for companies and businesses. 

Republicans have announced that they plan to fund K-12 at current levels. Which means, underfund K-12 for another year. Instead of coming up with a plan to generate revenue, or not cut more corporate taxes, Republicans are developing a plan to move the goal posts and change the MAEP formula so the same or less amount of money will magically fully-fund education. 

When looking at what’s going on around the country in terms of charter schools, it’s hard not to get cynical about the next four years for public education. Republicans have basically been setting up unrealistic goals for public schools or defunding schools to the point where they cannot meet basic standards (or a combination) in order to convert schools to “charter schools.” But don’t think of these schools as the ones fought over a few years back – these are for-profit institutions using state money to run schools. ALEC and their friends in Indiana have already developed model legislation that will surely make its way to Mississippi.

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