Passage in the Mississippi House on Thursday morning of a bill that inadequately funds the Mississippi Adequate Education Program for 2015 has apparently poured energy into the continuing efforts of public school supporters who want what they call a realistic funding level, and additional action can be expected in the days ahead.
Several advocates for additional funding have said to expect efforts to be made next week to amend HB 1476, the inadequate funding level that passed the House on Thursday in the absence of a meaningful alternative motion.
Legislators left the Capitol, as usual, on Thursday for a weekend recess, which means many of the legislators will be closer to their constituents who may want to speak their minds about the necessity of adequately funded public education.
The website of The Parents Campaign offers information on how much each school district is underfunded in the existing bill compared to what it should receive were MAEP funded as the law requires.
Beyond Monday and the House, many public school supporters believe additional opportunities are ripe for action to increase MAEP funding and to stop any legislation that does not strongly limit pouring vast amounts of taxpayer money into private schools, which are not accountable to the people whose tax funds are proposed to be spent.
The movement forward on education funding will require patience and careful legislating, as will other funding issues like public employees’ salaries, a hot issue sizzling across the bipartisan map.
Most of all, a successful rallying of support for adequately funded public education requires visibility and endurance.
A quiet campaign won’t win today’s civic political battles about public education. They don’t have to be ugly, but they must be audible and visible.
“I think we have a legitimate budget plan. I think we’ll probably offer some amendments, though probably when we get to the House appropriations bills in a couple of weeks,” said Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory.
All of the solidly forward-thinking gains in Mississippi in the past 50 years involved people showing up and speaking out.
Polite discussions over a cup of coffee don’t win the big issues, and in Mississippi no issue is bigger or more vital than adequate public schools.