Financing public schools is state’s biggest secret

Published 1:17 pm Friday, February 16, 2018

By T.J. Ray

The Monday edition of The Oxford Eagle is beside me, as I sit here contemplating what I just read on the back page. I am shocked to the core that the gang of 4 (or 6 or 8 or 10) who run things haven’t even let their Republican colleagues on the Education Committee know what is going on.

Reminds me of a time when Congress approved a massive health package that none of them read.

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In this case, most of the members of the Senate Education Committee are absolutely in the dark about the details of the budget that covers public education. And, barring the intervention of some legislative miracle worker, the next step may well be a placeholder bill which will keep everyone in the dark until the grand gurus, such as the chairman of the Senate Education Committee, deign to reveal their plan.

Actually, that might have said, “plot” instead of “plan” as such is what it is. The supermajority gang have no need to worry about serious opposition: they’ve got the raw numbers.

No doubt the placeholder bill is a blank check for the consultants who have taken over the State.

The story in the paper goes on to say that a conference committee will be created where “the details would be hammered out behind closed doors.”

I am in shock over such a sad state of affairs.

Perhaps a dozen Republicans were quoted in the story the local paper ran tonight. What was missing from every single one was a statement of outrage that they were as in the dark as the Democrats. One even noted that as long as his districts get more money, he is happy with things.

When folks are that brain dead, they really should get medical help — which is more difficult since you folks have done so much butchering of mental health services in the State.

The Legislature is rapidly becoming a farce. The story the EAGLE published, written by reporters at Mississippi Today, noted that 19 Democrats and 20 Republicans were wholly in the dark about what’s going on.

It should not be forgotten that the lieutenant governor has gone so far as to forbid EdBuild, the New Jersey-based school finance group that made recommendations for a new school funding formula last year, from meeting with Senate Democrats this whole session.

Just think about it: A major alteration in how public schools are financed is so delicate or so important or so other-worldly that the elected Democrats in the Senate are off limits to the architects of that new world? Does this raise an echo Mr. Orwell raised in his book, “1984”?

As the old saying goes, it’s better to light one little candle than to curse the darkness. So here is my suggestion: If you voted for a Republican now in the State Legislature, why don’t you give that individual a call. Don’t write. Don’t tweet. Don’t text. Pick up the phone and call. And if you’re told that great person is not around, keep calling back.

Alternatively, tell whoever answers the phone that unless you get a return call your vote will be different at the next election. On the other hand, if you voted for a Democrat, call that person and encourage a renewed fight against the educational darkness that is upon us.

T.J. Ray is a retired professor of English at Ole Miss.