Mississippi voters may get a clearer idea of the differences between two education funding proposals that will appear on the November ballot. A Hinds County judge has decided that the alternative language proposed by the legislature is misleading.
Hinds County Circuit Court Judge Winston Kidd threw out the language lawmakers passed earlier this year. It was an alternative to Initiative 42, a proposed constitutional amendment that would require lawmakers to fully fund public education in Mississippi. The alternative asked voters if they wanted lawmakers to establish a "effective system of free public schools." The new version asks the same question, but adds the phrase "but not provide a mechanism to enforce that right."
Adrian Shipman is the mother of two children in public school in Oxford. She brought the challenge before the court.
"I think this is wonderful," says Shipman. "Our children deserve this. They were due for a break. Voters will hopefully more clearly understand what they're voting for, and hopefully vote to require our legislatures to fully fund education."
Republican lawmakers who pushed the alternative did not wish to comment on the change, but when the alternative was originally adopted, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn said the language would encourage schools to focus on accomplishments and achievements and not just funding for funding sake.
Patsy Brumfield is with 42 for Public Schools, formerly known as Better Schools, Better Jobs. It's the group that proposed the original amendment.
"That is the absolute best decision that could have been made," Brumfield says. "Now voters will be able to clearly see the difference between Initiative 42, which is the real initiative for our children's future, and an alternate that will not do anything."
Voters will decide if they want to pass the constitutional amendment requiring the legislature to fully fund public schools during the November general election.