Letter to the editor: MAEP School Funding Formula – Change is coming

Is it really fair to declare the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) a failure when it has truly only been funded a single time in 20 years?  The next year, student achievement jumped.  One single, successful test and MAEP is now labeled a failure by the leadership, which now declares it s time to revise the formula with a paid, out-of-state consultant, EdBuild, who got a no-bid contract of $125,000.00 from a budget that is cutting mental health beds and schools without books.

If we are truly going to try to have a transparent discussion about the MAEP funding formula, would it not better serve all citizens and students to seek input in a public forum from many different voices and many different opinions?  This would mean real testimony in the Education Committee rooms of the Capitol.  We could learn so much from random and passionate teachers, principals, administrators, accountants, economists, success stories from other states.  As a freshman legislator and proud parent of a public school student, I simply yearn for a transparent process and then a decision based upon the merits.

It is troubling to me when leadership announces all in one day that they will revise the MAEP formula, and they have already found and hired a single consultant in a no-bid, no-hearing process.  Even more troubling is that when that no-bid contractor came under media scrutiny about secrecy and charter schools, it released a self-serving press release to distance itself from charter schools.  It went further to disclose some “charitable foundations” that supported it.  But, what do these foundations really support that deals with Mississippi public education?

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation  (Pro-Charter Schools)

The Walton Family Foundation (Pro-Charter Schools)

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation (Pro-Charter Schools)

The Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation (Pro-Charter Schools)

The Peter and Carmen Lucia Buck Foundation (Pro-Charter Schools)

The Carnegie Corporation of New York (Pro-Charter Schools)

Center for American Progress (Pro-Charter Schools)

The Helmsley Charitable Trust (Pro-Charter Schools)

The CityBridge Foundation (Pro-Charter Schools)

Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation (Pro-Charter Schools)

Who is not disclosed?  There are many charter school hedge funds desperate to get their investor hands into the second largest budget item in all 50 states?

The million-dollar question is why is EdBuild the lucky winner of this secret process of consultant hiring and what is it really charged to do to our public school system?  What does the contract look like?  The answers to these questions will sadly remain behind closed doors along the marble halls of the Capitol.

Jay Hughes

State Representative – District 12