Letters to the Editor: June 17, 2014

other_letters_editorMississippi’s children put at risk by McDaniel’s plan

I am deeply concerned by media reports of U.S. senatorial candidate Chris McDaniel’s support for abolishing the U.S. Department of Education and eliminating nearly $800 million in federal funding from our Mississippi schools.

I would rather not become a part of any political battle between candidates for office. However, the serious nature of these statements by state Sen. McDaniel leaves me no reasonable choice but to speak up on behalf of the students in our public schools.

As a former school district superintendent, I have been a lifelong proponent of public education. I believe it offers the greatest opportunity for students to succeed in life, and as a result, improve the state’s economy and our quality of life.

The nearly $800 million in federal funds Mississippi receives accounts for 24 percent of the state’s overall education budget. From these funds, the state received more than $117 million in Fiscal Year 2014 and is expected to receive $122 million in Fiscal Year 2015 for special education services in school districts. Additionally, millions of dollars are used for all Title programs, School Improvement Funds, Professional Development, Child Nutrition and Career and Technical Education programs.

Can you imagine how devastating this would be for the children of this state to not receive the money they need? Since 2009, the state has shortchanged MAEP by more than $1 billion. The possible loss of nearly $800 million would have a catastrophic impact on public education.

Federal law requires states to provide the necessary services for students with special needs. The loss of federal funds would force the state to generate the needed dollars to provide the same level of services, resulting in massive state and local tax increases and chaos in the state budget.

Someone has to speak for the boys and girls in our public schools, and I feel it is my duty to do just that. I urge you to join me in standing up for public education. I’m encouraging you to be vigilant, to alert your communities to this issue, and to communicate your opposition to any efforts to remove the federal funding that our students so desperately need.

Dr. O. Wayne Gann, Chairman

Mississippi State Board of Education

Jackson and Corinth

Click video to hear audio

  • Mary Turner

    I do not know where you got your information, Dr. Gann. Did you hear it from Chris mCDaniel’s mouth that he wants to cut federal funding?
    The only education statements I have heard him make it the proposal to cut the USDOE, established by Carter in 1979. We had federal funds before then, and we will still have federal funds when the USDOE is cut. In fact, if you divide the saved budget by 50, Mississippi will have even more money for the “students”, and you and I both know that a great teacher can teach students under an oak tree with no materials at all. That is often the way that 6 of my grandchildren are receiving a superior education, and their parents are both doctors who do not require mega salaries to get the job done.
    In fact, when we get back to the basics in public school and our country, we can even cut some fat there, if we use the brains we have to figure it out….Someone has to be the adult and balance an out of control budget. Chris is willing to take the hits. He is a champion that Mississippi needs- good common sense. Bless your heart, Dr. Gann! I pray that you see the LIGHT before long!

    • FrereJocques

      GREAT plan, MS Turner. Let’s set the Wayback machine for ~1800 and everyone get in it.

      Students taught UNDER A TREE? Not even a one-room schoolhouse? Do you think that we would have the great scientific advances we have today, if we were still teaching this way. Great God, woman, move your ideals and goals into reality and the 21st. century. People like you are what holds the world back from civility, justice, and enlightenment. Proof of what I say? Look no further than the Middle East, outside of Israel. Nations stuck in the 1000’s-1100’s. No civility. No justice. No equality. No education. How many great scientific advances have come out of the Middle East (again, outside of Israel)? NONE.

      You want to do away with the Department of Education, and still not harm public schools? Fine, then first come up with a plan to replace those funds that schools are now getting. All I’ve heard so far are “possibilities” and suppositions. The big problem with the TeePee-ers is that they don’t have a plan for ANYTHING except cut, cut, cut. They don’t have a plan to replace Obamacare with anything. Again, cut, cut, cut.

      The majority of people see the TeePee-ers for what they are–Luddites. This is why I believe–and am hoping and praying–that McDaniel loses on June 24th.

      • 1941641

        Hey, Frere. Are Luddites the same as Loonies? Just curious.

        • FrereJocques

          I may have misused the term “Luddites”. Luddites broadly refers to those who fear and reject technological advances. Even more broadly, it refers to those who prefer to retain the way things were done in the past, even when society as a whole would benefit from changes.

          “Loonies” are just plain crazy people. From the phrase, “Crazy as a loon”. Crazy people are those who do things without regard as to whether the results will be good or bad. They act illogically and irrationally.

          Using both words in a sentence for illustration: “i referred to TeePee-ers as acting like Luddites, but in reality they are just plain Loonies.”


          • Mary Turner

            Your prejudices and stereotyping are showing. You have no idea who I am and how much technology I use, where I live, nor my purpose for living. So why don’t you just grow up, and learn to get along with people . To do so, you may need to refrain from name calling those who disagree with you.

          • TWBDB

            Ms Turner and all. May I suggest we review the history and mission of the Dept of Education as it relates to what the department itself sees as the federal role. Let’s not forget that many of us, myself included, benefited from the Pell Grant ( college grant ) program this department administers. But most of all, let’s acknowledge the unsaid role here, that of equality of access to education. The burgeoning department first came into existence in 1867 – a marked time in history when an entirely new demographic was first allowed an education. Then throughout its history this department has striven to fill the void when states were unable or unwilling to fill the void. It is the states responsibility to administer education for its citizenry: but some states just don’t have the capability or the will.

      • Ells Worth

        As usual fairy jock distorts the facts and calls people all sorts of demeaning names and just sounds like a person with a limited vocabulary. Yes, we put men on the moon without a department of education. Yes Congress allocates money that does not go through any department secretary. Yes students can be taught under a tree if the teacher is qualified and it is not raining. I think you got the message that just throwing money is not in itself worth the paper the money is written on. So many regulations that come to the states as a result of being funneled through he department of education also reduces the value of the money.
        4-5% of the people do not make majority.
        Obamacare is a nightmare for working people, why do we need to come up with a nightmare to replace a nightmare?
        Cuts have to be made by the government because the debt is so high when interest rates rise by one percent the government will hardly be able to pay the interest on $17 trillion.

        • TWBDB

          Mr Worth. You lose all credibility about calling people out for name calling when you do it yourself.

          Yes, kids can be taught a hell of a lot of things under a tree with no money – good things in fact – but not what they need to know to succeed in the modern world. I always thought I’d gotten a top notch education in MS – until I pursued a career requiring a higher degree of learning. I looked around and the kids from other states, the kids from the EU, the kids from Asia, etc. didn’t have to go back and take additional classes in the basics like I had to do. They were better prepared than I. They’d taken courses and had thinking skills I’d never even heard of.

          I’ll give you an idea: today I was on a plane with a group of 7th and 8th graders from California heading to China for a 10 day tour to practice the language skills they’d been learning in school. That’s what they’d sold cookies, and had bake sales to do.

          • Ells Worth

            Mr. Brown, yes I sometimes hand things back when I am called names.

            While you point out a valid answer in response to your own experience.

            I can point out at least two cases where Mississippi students went to another state to earn a higher degree without having to take remedial courses. One built radio and radar equipment for sky lab and had to do the work of three because NASA could not find three qualified engineers.

            The other went to another state from high school and his test score allowed him to skip some basic courses. He finished his masters with 4 point gpa

            When I entered college I did not have to take remedial courses, but some that finished high school with me did.

            I am just saying that sending money to the states through the department of education is a waste of money when congress should be block granting money, then the states would have more funds.

            The sad part to me is the career educators that have made out pretty well even when up to half the tax money is wasted.

          • FrereJocques

            As usual, Mr. Worth, you miss the entire point. The Dept. of Education was created (politics notwithstanding) because the QUALITY of education across the nation varied tremendously. Some States put adequate resources into schools; some States divided their Education budget according to race, so “white” schools got the lion’s share of the funding and the resources, and “black” schools got next to nothing. This is what Brown vs. Board of Education was all about. The idea is to provide a GOOD education for ALL students. Now you can argue, with some plausibility, that it didn’t work out as well as was hoped, or planned. But this was NOT the fault of the Federal Government–the States that were discriminating did everything in their power to sabotage, undermine, or bypass the Rules. The Feds saw this, and in frustration did the best they could to fix things. This is why we ended up with bussing students from one district to another.

            The point of all this is that if the States had spent as much time, effort, and money to bring EQUAL education to all students, we would be much farther ahead of the game than we are now.

            And–I can’t help but point this out, AGAIN–who are the ones who still want to do things the OLD way, and go back to where we were a century ago? CONSERVATIVES! A more modern example: Think of all the time and money spent by Conservatives, in league with Right-Wing Religious organizations, to get Constitutional amendments passed at the State level trying to ban same-sex marriage and civil rights for gay people. It didn’t work: today, those State amendments are falling, one by one, and at an ever-increasing rate. Just imagine, if all that money, and all that time, and all that effort had been put into doing what a church is SUPPOSED to do–administer to the needs of its congregation and to the poor and needy, as Christ commanded–how much suffering and human misery would have been avoided.

            Conservatives are the past; where we’ve been, what we did wrong; not where we are going.

          • Ells Worth

            No Mr. Fairy Boy, I have not missed the point, since the department of education has been established schools through out the country are going backward. We were ranked one of the best educate countries in the world. Since the department has been part of the government we are now ranked # 25 in the world. I will also say that the quality of education is exceptional in Mississippi for children who have parents that show enough interest to secure a good education for their children. No amount of money from the Federal government is going to fix broken parents. Parents is the problem, not race as you like to throw out. Black children with responsible parents are on par with any student.

          • FrereJocques

            So then, if parents are the problem, and I happen to AGREE with that, why are you blaming the Federal Government and the DOE for our education woes?

            The sad part is that, in order to ensure equality in Education, public schools have had to pander to the lowest common denominator. A herd of cows, or any animal for that matter, can only move as fast as the slowest animal in the herd. Now in Education, there are ways to solve that problem–but again, Conservatives have been loathe to approve special educational schools, because they see only the extra expenditure of money from the Federal Government and they don’t see the benefits for the students and the Educational system as a whole. Now Conservatives are all FOR the Government giving money to PRIVATE Schools, with no strings attached. These schools are then free to teach religion, bigotry, discrimination, hatred, and all the things that the Government (wisely) forbids. And they DO.

            Special Education Schools can remove the slower students from the mainstream schools and allow them to move ahead on a much faster scale. But because we don’t do this, this is one of the reasons American public education has fallen so far behind the rest of the world.

          • TWBDB

            Mr Ellsworth, you complain about name-calling then you turn around and start your post by calling FrereJocques, Fairy Boy…..you believe to deride a person by mockingly referring to sexual orientation. I find this offensive and I am making a request that you refrain from this phrase if you indeed practice what you preach.

          • Ells Worth

            I thought fairy boy was acceptable, if sexual orientation is demeaning, then why do homosexuals flaunt their behavior then want others to accept them without making comment. O’ I see my mistake, it should have been french fairy boy. Mr. T , I have tried to respect your wishes about what you write, however, I do not believe you are the police for this forum.
            It seems we have to tip toe through the tulips to avoid saying anything about race and sexual orientation.

          • FrereJocques

            “Fairy” is a slang term that refers to gay people. It is offensive to them, just like the “N” word is offensive to black people. How would you like it if someone started referring to you as “White Trash”? I know that the homophobes were much happier when gay people were “in the closet” and more or less invisible. Gay people tolerated this until the Homophobes started deliberate attacks on them. This reached a head in 1969 in New York City during a police raid, in what has become known as the Stonewall riots. Gay people had had enough, and they started standing up for themselves. If they flaunt their behaviour today, it is because it is still necessary to demonstrate that they are not going away, nor back into the closet. Nor should they. Gay people are people in every sense that you are, and they have rights just as much as you do. I don’t think you’ve ever answered the question, Mr. Worth, what harm has a gay person ever done to you? And if they haven’t, what is your problem with them? You’ve never answered that one, either.

            Neither Mr. Brown nor myself are the policemen of this forum; we don’t claim to be, nor do we want to be. The people who are, are doing a pretty good job. They tolerate you and me, don’t they? :/

            “It seems we have to tip toe through the tulips to avoid saying anything about race and sexual orientation.”

            We’re not discussing race in this thread; as to sexual orientation, you don’t seem to be doing much “tip-toeing”. All that gay people want from straight people is tolerance. Respect would be nice, but they’ll settle for tolerance if that’s all they can get. You can argue your points all day about how homosexuality is condemned in the Bible, but please understand in return that not everyone believes the same things you do. And the other point of tolerance is to quit trying to pass civil laws that restrict the fundamental rights of gay people. This is plain, simple, flat-out discrimination that has its roots in the hatred and bigotry and homophobia of many so-called “Christian” organizations. In a democratic society, Civil Rights are not something to be voted on and decided in an election; they are guaranteed in the Nation’s founding documents. Never forget that.

          • Ells Worth

            By the way Mr. Brown, this all started with french fairy boy and me when he/she started calling me a bigot and homophobe for expressing my Christians beliefs. We have been sparing long before you came along, either one of us could have stopped at any time. I consider your advice moot when you are not involved.
            If that is what you got from your out of state higher education that makes you fell superior, I will refrain from any labels that might offend, you made your own point.

          • FrereJocques

            Mr. Worth, I called you a bigot and a homophobe because THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE. You claim you are these things because of your “Christian” beliefs. So by your example, you are making all Christians look like bigots and homophobes. Now I also believe that this is not true; many, if not most Christians do not have these beliefs. But many of the “Christian” religious organizations DO believe this. You can start right here in Tupelo, over on The Dark Side with the Wildmons and the others of their ilk who use the Nation’s airwaves to spread their hatred and bigotry. And almost any other “Christian” organization that has the word “Family” in the title. Like the Pharisees and Sadducees in Jesus’ day, they attempt to hide their sins and hatreds and prejudices behind a cloak of false righteousness. And in this day and time, they hide behind a Religious facade that then allows them to operate without paying taxes, which is the ultimate kick in the face to the rest of us.

            Tell you what, I’ll make you a deal. You quit calling me Fairy Boy, and I’ll quit calling you Worthless. I’ve already started (see the opening of this post).

          • TWBDB

            Oh, I’ve been around here for a long time Mr Ellsworth. I remember when you came along: you’ve called me names before. FrereJocque has called
            me out before. I’m involved alright.

            Mr Ellsworth, in the circuit I travel, my education is minimal by comparison. As we’ve been attempting to discuss here, education is most often a matter of opportunity: it’s rarely a measure of intelligence. Experience, humility, and willingness count for a heck of a lot in my book. I don’t ‘feel superior’.

            I’ve known my share of gay bigots, haven’t you FJ? Bigotry is a state of mind, not a religious conviction; the same for homophobia. IMHO, believing same-sex is a sin is not homophobia, it is a religious belief
            not unlike the belief that bearing false witness against your neighbor is a
            violation of the Ten Commandments. I happen to believe bearing false witness against homosexuals as a demographic is homophobic and a sin.

            But then again, the topics of bigotry, homosexuality, superiority complexes, or name-calling aren’t the topic of discussion here. They are mere distractions, typical, predictable fare for Tea Party Patriots.

          • TWBDB

            I thank you Mr Worth for refraining from calling me names. That keeps this debate on a higher level.

            Sure, there are exceptional students; exceptional schools which focus on college preparatory classes, etc. The key to this phrase is ‘exception’ – and the opportunity to achieve shouldn’t be limited to exception.

            Look, I’m not all about sending a blank check to anyone; there’s plenty of wasteful spending. What I object to is the fact that your candidate, and you, advocate tossing everything out, and let’s get to brass tacks here, reducing the federal government’s input into the system. Your way, please correct me if I’m wrong, would leave education system management and funding entirely to the State of MS. I’m sure even in that respect the State of MS would look beyond itself but I’m not convinced the State of MS has the capacity or will to deliver a plan for improvement of the system without taking a sledge hammer to the process. The statements of those quite to the right conservatives in power and those who seek power certainly indicate as much.

    • 1941641

      Thanks, Mary.

      You have let me in on some things I had not previously know about Chris McDaniel. The media has done a good job keeping me informed about who and why and what in the nursing home incident involving Chris’s Mississippi associates. The one big question in in the nursing home has not yet been answered. But, it may come soon. I hope I’ll be hearing from you again through the Daily Journal.–A Proud Tupelo Liberal.

    • Jack Makokov

      You’re right, Mary. Teachers shouldn’t be paid at all; salaries are too danged high. I’m sure you taught at no charge in your 41 years under the oak trees. We should stop investing in our schools, too. Let’s funnel that extra cash to manufacturers, “cultural retail” malls, and anyone with a cool YouTube video of biofuel projects. Doesn’t matter that folks won’t have the skills to fill those jobs, because we’ll just “incentivize” them with more cash.

      Oopsies. We do those things already. It’s those “Mississippi values” in action.