Effort to fully fund public education in Mississippi gaining ground

Published: Mar. 12, 2015 at 2:25 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 12, 2015 at 3:40 PM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - The debate to fully fund education in Mississippi has been going on for generations, but the newest grass roots effort has a different tool to get its message across: social media.

If the newest "Fed Up with 50" effort to fully fund state education sounds familiar, it is. The protest to protect Singing River Health Systems pension plan started out with just a Facebook page. In just a few months, it started getting high level attention. That's what Julia Weaver wants. But she also wants results.

"We're not asking for new money," she said. "We're not asking for new taxes. We know the money is there. The Mississippi Adequate Education Program is law and we want the state legislature to fund education."

The Mississippi Legislature has funded the MAEP only two times since it was established in 1997. The last time was in 2008.

Gov. Phil Bryant said the state has agreed to raise public education funding to up to $110 million.

"We will never be able to fully fund what people was an arbitrary formula from the 1990s. But back where I come from, $110 million is a lot of money, and it is an increase."

Weaver said that's not good enough.

"We are 50th year after year after year, and a lot of people have said they're going to just throw up their hands. "You can't fix public education.' We're going to go in a different direction," Bryant said. "Do you know who has solved this problem better than we have? It's Alabama. It's Arkansas. It's Louisiana. It's Oklahoma. It's New Mexico. It's Washington D.C."

Lisa Pomeroy has a daughter in the first grade.

"She's learning to read, and class size is a huge issue," she said. "How can you get individual attention as a child if your class size is so large? If your schools can't afford assistant teachers?"

And just like the seniors with Singing River Health System, Weaver and her group don't plan to give up.

"There's dead and there's dead dead. So until the end of the session, some of these good ideas for public education are not dead dead."

Pomeroy added, "I won't be quiet. I will not be quiet until schools are funded."

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