Patsy Brumfield, spokesperson for "42 for Better Schools," says the state is at the bottom economically and it will take fully funding public education to begin to attract businesses, and make economic gains. Brumfield joined former Governor Ronnie Musgrove and Representative John Moore, Chair of the House Education Committee, for a panel discussion about MAEP. Brumfield says it's been fully funded twice since it became law in 1997.
"The promise that the legislature made to the citizens and to the schools, and their children has been shortchanged by nearly 1.7 billion dollars." said Brumfield.
Musgrove has filed a lawsuit on behalf of school districts over underfunding. He referred to the 1975 Ayres case which fought for funding historically black universities.
"With almost every major gain of education that's in Mississippi, it has taken a lawsuit. Ask the HBCU's of higher education. It's the Ayres Lawsuit that had to be filed, went to the U.S. Supreme Court to get that decision." said Musgrove.
Representative John Moore discussed the financial hits the state has suffered, including Hurricane Katrina, the stock market crash, and the oil spill on the Gulf Coast. He touted some changes, such as raising teacher supply funding from six to 12 million dollars.
"We'll have our first charter schools opening this fall in the City of Jackson. The Third Grade Reading Act, which is probably the linch-pin of the reforms, that's just to require that children be able to read." said Moore.
A referendum about fully funding education will be on the November ballot.