A statewide coalition wants Mississippi lawmakers to make education funding a priority.
Led by former Governor William Winter, thousands of parents across the state have been busy passing out petitions and planning a march on the state capital next month.
"We want our education fully funded. And we want it funded early," said Rene Barton, who helped pass petitions in the Pascagoula School District.
Barton says that message helped convince more than five thousand voters to sign the petitions. She has three good reasons to support education: Two girls in high school and a son in the fifth grade.
"And without our funding, we're not going to get good qualified teachers to teach our AP classes at the high school for instance. You've got to have the money to be able to pay these people to come in and educate our children," she explained.
Her 9th grade daughter is proud of her mom's efforts. Jillian Barton says education funding is essential.
"Because we have to have an education to have a good future and be able to get a job," the student said.
Former Governor William Winter issued a call to action in late September.
"This is one of the most important missions that any one of us could be involved in," the former governor told those attending a rally at the capital.
January 4th the Pascagoula group will march six miles down Highway 90, beginning at the east edge of Gautier and finishing at Highway 57 and the entrance to Ocean Springs.
"One of our things is wearing red and we're going to carry red banners and stuff, because we don't want our schools in the red," said Rene Barton.
The chairman of the house education committee says the grass roots coalition is not only important, he calls it critical. State Rep. Randy Pierce told WLOX News it will take Moms and Dads from across the state, calling their elected leaders to ensure that education is adequately funded next year.
"We just want them to understand that school funding is a priority for us. And we cut that, we're not going to have what we need for our schools," Barton said.
The group will present its petition to the state legislature on January 11th.