Mississippi groups react to the Governor’s education priorities within his Executive Budget Recommendation

Published: Nov. 16, 2022 at 7:33 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Governor Tate Reeves is making his funding agenda known to lawmakers before they return to the Capitol in January. They aren’t obligated to follow the recommendation. But it gives insight into what Reeves will support.

There’s a lot in the recommendation from a repeat call to eliminate the income tax to a new pro-life agenda. But today, we’re focusing on the proposed education measures.

A year after the historic teacher pay raise and some education advocates aren’t celebrating the Governor’s latest budget recommendation. Executive director of Parents for Public Schools Joann Mickens weighed in.

“My initial reaction is a disappointment,” said Mickens. “Whenever I look at an education budget in our state, and I see that the Mississippi adequate education plan is not being fully funded, when we are billions of dollars behind what that full funding would look like, I’m disappointed to see the level funding for MAEP. And I don’t want us to lose sight of the fact that 90% of the children in Mississippi attend public schools.”

School vouchers that can be used at private schools are only an option for special needs students. Reeves wants to extend it to 400 foster kids in a pilot program. That’s an idea supported by Empower Mississippi.

“One of the other things we’ve seen coming out of the pandemic is states across the country, are funding students instead of systems, described Grant Callen, Founder, and CEO of Empower Mississippi. “And why does that matter? It means that we make funds portable, and tied to the students and it just makes sure that students have the freedom to find the best setting for them. I hope we expand it much beyond just kids in the foster care system. But this is a great first step.”

Then there’s the Parents Bill of Rights that the Governor wants to create. He notes in the summary: “There is no place in our schools for policies that force students or teachers to refer to a child by a name or pronoun that fails to correspond with the biological sex on the child’s official record.”

Human Right Campaign State Director Rob Hill is ready to fight any such legislation.

“We do agree that parents should be involved in their children’s education,” said Hill, HRC Mississippi state director. “We agree that parents should be involved in medical choices for their children. What the governor is proposing is dangerous censorship. That tells a kid who they can and cannot be, and imposes a world view, from some, and I say some because I don’t think it’s the majority, a world view on all of us, and we we fundamentally reject that.”

Tomorrow we will break down the public safety-related recommendations from the Governor, including what he’d like to see change for school safety measures.

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