THE BLOG

Winning One for the Future in Mississippi

05/17/2015 10:34 am ET | Updated May 15, 2016

We know all too well about misdirection, misinformation, misappropriation and missed opportunity in Mississippi. The political boss hogs feed at the trough at the expense of our future. Initiative 42 can change this.

Does anyone question the right of all children in Mississippi to a free and adequate public education?

Basic, essential needs must be met such as well-trained and -paid teachers, safe and roadworthy school buses, enough text books for every student to take home, reading coaches, computers, simple school supplies and classrooms that don't leak when it rains.

Sadly, the question I pose is one being debated in Mississippi. The basic, essential needs I list are lacking within Mississippi's public schools, schools that teach and prepare nearly half a million young Americans to add their contributions in hard work and achievement to the American Dream.

Initiative 42 is a ballot initiative that will be voted on this November in Mississippi. This initiative, if passed, will require the Magnolia State's legislature to fully and adequately fund the education of our fellow Americans who attend the state's public schools. This is an opportunity to correct a harsh wrong that impacts our whole nation.

Since fiscal year 2009, alone, Mississippi's public schools have been underfunded by $1.7 billion. In Mississippi, that amounts to 4,871 first-year teachers, or 16.7 million textbooks, or 4,555 school counselors for 10 years, or 5.6 million computers, or 17,634 buses. This is the difference in an adequate education versus one that falls far short for our children in this state.

Initiative 42 was placed on the ballot by nearly 200,000 Mississippians from members of both political parties in every county who signed petitions saying "enough," it's time to fix this longtime malady, it's time to teach and prepare our children.

Initiative 42, if passed, would hold Mississippi's legislators to their word by following the letter of a law they passed in 1997 promising to fully fund the schools.

Initiative 42, as a native Mississippian, matters to me. It should matter to us all. I'm glad it matters to more than 60% of my fellow Mississippians who have said they want the public schools funded.

Initiative 42 matters to a group of dedicated and hard working Mississippians who have raised more than $2 million and organized as 42 for Better Schools to pass this important initiative.

Sadly, it doesn't matter to everyone. In fact, the legislature added another initiative to the election ballot to compete with Initiative 42. The legislature's alternative does nothing but maintain the status quo of failed schools and limited opportunity.

We know all too well about misdirection, misinformation, misappropriation and missed opportunity in Mississippi. The political boss hogs feed at the trough at the expense of our future.

Initiative 42 can change this.

Initiative 42 can win. Mississippians support it. They want a better future. And, we all have an opportunity to join with these optimistic, forward-looking Mississippians. They need all of us to support Initiative 42 and battle the demons of the past.

Together, we can win one for nearly 500,000 American public school students looking for a fair shot at the American Dream.