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Parents Push For Full K12 Funding

By Annie Gilbertson | Published 01 Sep 2011 07:41pm | comments
AP Graphic by Todd Wiseman

Parents for Public Schools has launched a petition in Mississippi, hoping to get enoughparents to press the state legislature to fully-fund public schools.  MPB's Education Reporter, Annie Gilbertson reports.

Those with stakes in the public school system have only a few months to garner legislative support for K-12 education before next year’s budget vote.

Susan Womack, Executive Director of Parents for Public Schools in Jackson, is helping organize parents in their quest to  fully fund education.  She sees the situation as more complex than dollars and cents.

Womack: “More resources alone don’t make and don’t guarantee better schools, but schools can’t get better without resources.”

Parent Wilma Thomas in Lexington says students can't get better either.  She argues supplemental support programs for low-level readers or for those dealing with issues at home are vital.  She warns that if they aren't reinstated a generation of students will be left behind. She says adequate support would make a difference.

Thomas: “We would have more graduates. We would have more children eager to go to school to learn because if they have that boost they need, they are going to enjoy learning.”

That's  partly why the state came up with MAEP, the Mississippi Adequacy in Education Program, in the first place – adequate education for all.   The formula calculates how much state support is needed to cover what the local tax base cannot.  But since its inception in 1997, the MAEP calculation recommendation has only been fully funded twice.

Tollison: “It is had an impact.  Larger classroom sizes, programs have been eliminated, so schools have had to scrabble with the shortfall.”

That's Democrat State Senator Gray Tollison.  He believes there is enough state money to fully fund MAEP, but his colleague, Republican State Senator Chris McDaniel, disagrees.

McDaniel: “The recession, as you know, took resources away from every agency including education which is regrettable. Everyone wants to fully fund education.  It’s just a matter if we can fully-fund education.”

Parents for Public Schools hopes they can get enough parents like Wilma Thomas to speak out, and ramp up the pressure on legislators to provide adequate state funding for education.  Time is short.  The legislature will vote on the budget early next year.

From the Southern Education Desk, for MPB News, I'm Annie Gilbertson.

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AP Graphic by Todd Wiseman


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