We need to pass 42 for our children

Published 12:00 pm Tuesday, October 13, 2015

On Nov. 3 we will vote on Initiative 42, a proposed amendment to the state constitution to bring it into line with roughly 45 other states and to provide that every child has a fundamental right to an adequate and efficient education.

This amendment is necessary due to the Legislature’s failure, for 16 of the past 18 years, to follow its own law to fund our schools adequately.

Between 2009 and the current fiscal year, Lafayette County schools have been underfunded by $9 million and Oxford schools have been underfunded by $11.9 million. That amounts to a lot of teachers, textbooks and lab equipment. Most school districts in the state are unable to fund the difference in the legislature’s yearly shortfall and what the respective schools need. Oxford and Lafayette County are fortunate, so far, to be able to make up this difference — but in doing so your local taxes increase sharply. Meanwhile, the state will continue to take 83 percent of the sales tax you spend here in Oxford and Lafayette County.

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Many of you know what I said repeatedly when I once proudly represented Oxford in City Hall – that a community’s success has three primary drivers: the quality of health care, the quality of public safety, and the quality of public education. Likewise, Mississippi on the whole will not succeed unless its communities achieve stability in these three areas.

Some have said that colleges will suffer if K-12 schools are adequately funded, a reasoning that reduces education to a dog-eat-dog world and degrades all.

Funding does not guarantee success but lack of funding virtually guarantees failure. We owe it to the almost 500,000 children who go to public school every day across our state — 90 percent of the state’s children — to pass Initiative 42 and give them the resources they need to succeed.    

The ballot has been made to be confusing, many say through the pure chicanery of those who oppose the initiative and have the authority to create the ballot.  So, if you want to give Mississippi, Lafayette County, and Oxford a better chance at success, be sure to vote 1) FOR the constitutional amendment, and 2) FOR Initiative 42 – NOT 42A.   

Richard Howorth