Approve then choose Initiative 42

Published 12:48 am Sunday, November 1, 2015

When Mississippians head to the polls Tuesday, the simple issue of how our state funds its public education system will be complicated.

First, make no mistake; no one wanted Initiative 42, a constitutional amendment that forces the Legislature to adequately fund education.

The initiative’s biggest opponents are the very legislators who caused the underfunding mess in the first place. They’re so opposed to not having their way that they added an alternative initiative to the ballot, the sole purpose of which is to confuse voters by causing a two-step process to vote.

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Mississippi’s lawmakers did a great thing in 1997 with the passage of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. MAEP was aimed at providing a level playing ground for all state school districts — rich and poor alike.

Sadly, year after year, lawmakers chose to simply not fully fund the program. It’s only been fully funded twice, both election years.

Constitutionally, we don’t like the initiative. Clearly the people should not have to amend the state’s constitution to hold elected officials accountable. The fact is ousting incumbent lawmakers can be difficult.

In addition, we’ve simply lost total faith that the Legislature will ever support Mississippi’s education system as deeply as it should without its hand being forced.

The mood tends to be: The problem with the education system isn’t how much money we’re putting into it, it’s a lack of parental involvement.

Clearly, a lack of parental involvement is a problem, but at the end of the day the state is either going to overcome the social woes of today by working hard and investing all available resources to educate all of the state’s children or we’ll continue be mired at the bottom educationally and economically.

We urge people who care about Mississippi’s future to vote “Approve” and then “Choose 42” on Tuesday.