Initiative 42 is a Democratic tool

Published 12:02 pm Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Your Op-Ed “Teachers Need Resources” quotes Wallethub, who purports to be experts in personal finance, as a source for the “Best and Worse State for Teachers.” Founded by Odysseas Papadimitriou, the firm hardly qualifies as expert on matters of education and especially Mississippi’s teachers. Given the founder’s last name, I wouldn’t set store on his financial advice either. Greece remains on the edge of default with a debt/GDP ratio of 175 percent.

You opine MAEP should be fully funded and teachers’ salaries are too low yet you fail to mention how well our legislature is doing in spite of Initiative 42. Mississippi had the second-lowest average teacher pay in the nation in 2013 at $41,994 but in 2014 our GOP led legislature passed a $100 million teacher pay raise and added merit pay provisions.

All teachers get an extra $2,500 plus their annual step raise of at least $495. Schools that rate “A’’ on the state’s A-to-F system will get $100 per student to share with their teachers; schools moving up one grade will get the same. Schools rated “B’’ get $75 per student. Our starting teacher pay of $31,184 is now closing in on the $36,141 U.S. average. Not bad for a state whose population includes 18.2 percent of kids ages 5-17 — the highest concentration of K-12 students of any state.

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Your statement “Voters will have to decide whether to vote on 42 or 42A…” is misleading. There are three alternatives. The third is to not amend the state Constitution at all. Unless you want a single Hinds County judge to adjudicate MAEP issues, not your 122 elected representatives, there is no need for 42 or 42A. The fact is you cannot vote for 42 or 42A unless you first vote “Yes” to amend our Constitution. Now just whose idea was Initiative 42? The Better Schools campaign to get 42 on the ballot is managed by Jonathan Compretta, a Democrat lawyer with Mike Moore’s law firm. His sidekick is a “Political Opposition Research” firm owned by Michael Rejebian and Alan Huffman. Moore was Mississippi’s Democrat attorney general from 1988 to 2004. Rejebian, when he’s not digging up dirt on Republicans, is an adviser to Jim Hood our current democrat attorney general. Note of the three alternatives, only one inserts the state’s judicial process into the mix. The other two leave the power to fund state education to our 122 legislators.

Last month, Compretta and Rejebian filed a lawsuit asking a judge to put a more in-depth explanation of 42 onto the ballot, using language supplied by the proposal’s sponsors. They withdrew it one day before absentee voting saying, “Our focus now is to educate voters on how to navigate the misleading ballot language that state officials have intentionally adopted to manipulate this election.” Such language belies their true motives, reeks of disrespect, and creates adversarial relationships. We don’t need that and I am one voter that does not need to be “educated.”

And who benefits if Initiative 42 is approved? The Democrat trial lawyers in Mississippi that’s who! This is a whole new politically motivated “tool” to bait any individual that thinks the legislature short changed them to file a lawsuit. And who gets the legal fees? We have enough litigious folks masquerading as “apolitical trial lawyers” — they don’t need another venue for their trade. I’m voting “no” on amending the Constitution. Getting the state judicial system mixed up in MAEP does nothing for education. It’s all about democrat politics, power and greed.

Harley Garrett