The Future is Now

It’s tempting to weigh in on this year’s presidential election. Heaven knows that the candidates have provided us with plenty of low-hanging fruit. However, your state legislature has very quietly begun discussions on an issue that will have a much more significant impact on your lives and the lives of people your age: the funding formula used for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.

MAEP, created in 1997, but followed only twice, in 2002 and 2008, uses a complex formula to determine how much money the state legislature should allocate to the Mississippi Department of Education. Because the formula has only been used twice, its proponents believe that it should not be scrapped–that we should not repeal something that hasn’t been given a fair chance. Its opponents, who are far larger in number, believe the formula was doomed in the first place because the state cannot consistently allocate so much money to education without putting other important programs at risk. (Raising taxes, whether for education or roads, is a deal killer in Mississippi.)

It’s not surprising that MAEP, as we know it, is in its death throes–the legislature has been antagonistic to the formula since Haley Barbour was governor, and downright suspicious of MDE since the infancy of Proposition 42. The purported aim of revising MDE is to spend more money in the classroom, where the state ranks dead last or close to it, and to spend less on administrative costs, where the state ranks 20th. That sounds good; however, it may encourage competent administrators in good districts to move to other states to make more money. Cynics suggest that the legislature is simply punishing MDE and others for throwing weight behind Proposition 42, and trying to get more money to charter schools.

So, without raising taxes–and without forgetting about public safety and public health–how would you tackle to problems involved in funding education?

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28 Responses to The Future is Now

  1. Jackson Sparkman says:

    How w do we know if MAEP works when we have only funded it fully twice in its history. The Mississippi Legislator has constantly failed to successfully fund the states education properly. Much of this is thanks to the fact that our state legislator requires that our State budget is balanced before the Legislator disbands for the year. We have to start making education a priority instead pumping money into anything else

  2. Pal P says:

    Education can get funded without raising taxes. There are many ways to tackle the problems involved in funding the education. One way to tack the problem is that the state can open a website where people can donated as much money as they want to to help fund education.

  3. Vera L. Taire says:

    I think the education system can make do with the amount of money they have- yes, it’d be nice to increase, but unfortunately that isn’t an option. I think the real issue is the quality of the teachers we put in to the school system and the apathy of the parents. Teaching is one of those things you go to school for when you can’t do anything else- a bit like nursing, teaching is a fall back. But you can’t attract decently smart people, because we pay our teachers crap wages. Both of my parents are teachers- I might even say good teachers. They love their jobs, but it’s a struggle to devote yourself fully to your pupils when you work three jobs to stay afloat. We need better teachers- teachers that love to teach and that care about their students. And we need to show them love and respect in return. Up those wages! Up their training! Give them more freedom in managing the class room.
    As far as making the parents care, you can’t. Therefore, the kids don’t care. In addition, so many of them are left behind- reading levels in highschool classes range from illiterate to like 2000 words a minute. That’s an enormous gap. I think if classrooms were separated by both gender and ability, students would progress.
    Ultimately, our system sucks. But fixing it is too hard, and some people were meant to be janitors and burger flippers. We need them too.

  4. Meagan Pittman says:

    When distributing money among various needs, legislature must look to education first. After education is properly funded, then take care of the other problems, prioritize. It has always been at the bottom of the concern list for many people in government, but if it was properly funded many of the other problems that require money would decrease or resolve completely. Also, much of the money that is allocated towards education is simply wasted on unnecessary things or used inappropriately.

  5. Devon M says:

    I think that state legislature could start making more of a virtual classroom. Not really online courses, but one teacher teaching all of the students of the subject via video. After this, students could go to teachers during a sort of tutorial time like at MSMS with questions and specific help that they need.

  6. Brianna Ladnier says:

    I am currently the State President for Mississippi FBLA, in which I work very close with the Division Director for the Mississippi Department of Education, Sandra Parker. In this partnership, you reveal how much we truly do spend on education. The money in education isn’t just allotted to school and department employees, but it is also given to student organizations. If we look at our state’s reserves, we notice Total General Fund Available for FY 2016 Budget $5,519,549,551. However, this is not how much we will spend. That comes from separate sources, whether collected from Capital Expense Funds, Health Care Trust Fund, or Budget Contingency Funds. Of that amount, $53,863,338 will be spent, a $18,457,989 increase. Public Education received $18,671,716 and Higher Education received $1,294,477. Alright, I just threw a lot of numbers at you guys, but it was in order to give you perspective as to the amount of money that does go into education, not including hospital schools due to them being lumped in with hospitals as a whole.However, if we want a way to increase our spending on education even more, we can glance at the income of taxes. 2.75% of our income from taxes is due to the smoking tax, despite Mississippi having INSANELY high levels of smokers. The national average (18+ persons) is 18.4% of the nation are smokers. In Mississippi, 22.7% of persons over 18 smoke. In persons 12-17, almost 10% of that age group in Mississippi smokes. With these insanely high numbers, the tobacco tax only rakes in 2.75% of our income of taxes? I love this following quotation, because it directly speaks to this topic.

    “The President’s proposal to raise the federal excise tax on tobacco products and use the additional revenue to expand preschool education, which he included in both his fiscal year 2014 and 2015 budgets, could achieve the dual goals of reducing the number of premature deaths due to smoking and raising an estimated $78 billion over ten years to finance early childhood education. ”

    Obviously, I kind of violated the first rule you stated, “without raising taxes”. I truly do think this is the safest option, though. It is technically taxes, but I hope this can be permitted due to its small impact on the consumer itself. This does not apply to every person, reducing the backlash, and it is something that is already currently in the works. I’m really curious as what others think of this idea, so feel free to respond (& Yes, I do believe you receive points for responding to someone else’s comment as well.).

  7. Kamal Bhalla says:

    Funding education is, and will be very hard to do it no matter what happens. Honestly, there are many ways, as mentioned by the other comments, yet there will be so many holes in them. We have to find ways, at least a good way, that are secure enough to properly fulfill the need of our education. I believe that giving proper wages to teachers that have been working hard for many years, and are suffering need a better pay. Students that are not getting a proper langue due to where they are, is horrible. There are so many holes in our country, yet only some patches are being made.

  8. Shuchi Patel says:

    My google search of “What does the United States waste money on?”1 led me to the find out that the U.S. spends 3.1 billion dollars to pay federal employees on administrative leave. This means that federal employees in Mississippi are causing the state to lose money. Instead, this money can be used to produce better educated people.

    • P. Patel says:

      If the United States spent more money on education and less on paid leaves then the nation would be in great progress. Spending 3.1 billion dollars on pay leave is just insane. Instead of spending money on paid leaves the government should increase the pay of teachers. The reason for that is because teachers have a great impact on students, that are one day going to change the world.

  9. Brent Styles says:

    This question is a very difficult one for me to answer. I have noticed that school lunches are now free for everyone. I believe that only people that qualify for free or reduced lunch should get these benefits. Applying this would not, however, solve the money problem. I believe that the MAEP should be given at least one more chance. Until then, I believe it would be a poor decision to get rid of it.

    • P. Patel says:

      MAEP should be given another chance to do something better, and not anything bad. I agree with you on the idea of free lunches. Some people are just not capable of paying for their lunches, and those people deserve free lunches. However, there are a few people that can pay for their lunches and they don’t because their offered free lunches. If the people that can pay for lunch did pay then the government would be saving a lot of money.

  10. Lydia Holley says:

    MAEP should be given one more chance, and should be fully funded for at least five years in a row. If it is not fully funded for a decent amount of time, we will not be able to know if it actually works. Education needs to be a priority, and the funding should not be what ever money is left over that we can spend without braking the bank. Education in Mississippi has become one of the last things people care about. People would rather invest in football games instead of the education of a future doctor, author, musician, dancer, etc.. The government can easily fix the problem of money for education if they wanted to.
    There are many options for raising money for education, most of which have been listed already. Taking casino money and investing it in education, a website where people can donate money, having students who don’t necessarily qualify for free lunch pay for their lunch, etc.. The Mississippi Legislator would rather invest in casinos than educate more people. This hurts people who want the best education. This hurts people like us at MSMS.

  11. Liam McDougal says:

    Without hesitation, I can say that if in the position, I would massively improve the priority of spending on education to provide an education for the future of our nation, planet, and species. Obviously, this money is not going to come from nowhere. While we can create it, it isn’t exactly a good idea- inter-war Germany is a perfect example. Rather than creating money and massive inflation, I would instead cut the percentage of our national wealth spent on military.

    America undoubtedly has the most powerful fighting force on Earth in terms of power and numbers. Federal spending in 2015 on military totalled nearly $598.5 billion USD, whereas education paled in comparison with $70 billion. Every hour, taxpayers have been paying $8.36 million for the wars since the beginning of the ‘War on Terror’ in 2001. Now, I am not necessarily stating that we should entire cut funding to our military, not remotely. The allies of America and by extension the allies of freedom rely on our support in their endeavors to defend themselves, and without us they would have much more of a struggle. I am simply suggesting we tone it down a few notches.

    My primary example is the F-35 superiority fighter. Since the program’s inception in 2001, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter has cost taxpayers more than $1,000,000,000,000. That’s trillion, with a T. Now, it’d be expected that a weapons system so expensive would be equally advanced, and be able to crush its competition in battle. See, that’s the problem: expert Air Force and Navy pilots, after testing the F35 in combat simulators, stated that it pales in comparison to the already existing F-18 and F-22 fighters. Number-crunching simulations, too, show a statistical advantage to the F-22 over the F-35. The military plans to make the F-35 a sort of Swiss army knife of aircraft; it’s designed to replace purpose-built aircraft such as the ground-attacking A-10 warthog and the dog-fighting F-22. The problem is, it can’t do any of those jobs alone, much less all-in-one. We’ve spent a trillion or more dollars on a fighter that is basically a $98,000,000 paperweight.

    What could $98,000,000 do for our country’s education? That’s the cost of a single F-35, God forbid we figure out how much one TRILLION could do. To sum up my angry rant, I feel that if we cut out the unnecessary military spending just for the purpose of being the best, despite the fact that our current less expensive hardware is superior, and put the money into education, we could inform our future generations how not to create useless machines, and ultimately, how not to create $2 trillion dollar wars.

  12. Briana Johnston says:

    Mississippi needs more funding for the education of its’ students. Mississippi is ranked last in educational performance. This can be contributed to factors such as poor teachers, poor lesson plans, poor alternate education, poor instructional materials, but mainly poor funding. Poor funding contributes to the inadequate staff and programs schools have. Mississippi knows that it needs to change something, so why not give MAEP a chance? It’s worth a chance because Mississippi is already at the bottom of the educational totem pole. There is no where left to go but up. MAEP supports all students education equally and gives all students an equal opportunity to achieve something greater than settling.

  13. Thomas_Easterling says:

    Mr. Wise has another follow-up of interest:
    What you really need to look into is why the legislature fought so hard to defeat Proposition 42.
    And how a company called EdBuild and approved a $250,000 contract for them to change the formula

    The State has a spending cap of $125,000 for the contract, but Reeves and Gunn said they are trying to find private donors to help defray that cost. EdBuild’s foundation has paid for the other half of the contract’s cost.

    Question, who do you think the “private Donors” might be, and what is in it for them?

    Daniel Wise

  14. Aurelia Caine says:

    There are plenty of ways to fund education without raising tax. But the question itself is hard to answer. We easily throw away money on a daily basis. Legislature needs to make sure they fund education primarily before they go about funding other areas. We are clearly at the dead bottom education wise and need to change that.

  15. Mariat Thankachan says:

    Without proper education, there would be no other occupations. We have to understand the importance of good education and do all that we can to support its growth. Mississippi can do this by reducing the amount of money thrown into areas such as travel for state agencies. For example, agencies spent $60 million last year on travel expenses and just differentiating between necessary travel and unnecessary travel could provide millions for education. Looking at Mississippi’s rankings on education at this point, anything with a solid plan deserves a shot, including MAEP. If there’s a will, there’s a way and things could only get better anyway.

  16. AK Mynatt says:

    So many students drop out of school every year because they feel as if coming to school 5 days a week is a waste of time. The money put into education is not spent well. School should not be a daily hassle, but something that is enjoyable and worth your time. Supposedly there is so much tax money being put into education every year, but what do we really have to show for that?

  17. Amber Jackson says:

    This situation is a very hard to solve which is why it is clearly a highly debated topic. Maybe, we should adopt ideas and bills that successful states and countries in education have adopted. I’m not informed properly to speak on this topic so I can’t offer a succinct suggestion on what the Mississippi Legislation should specifically do with their money. A solution could be to shut down some schools and move more children into bigger schools. I know my old district had way to many schools for one school zone. This probably leads to every school not getting adequate money because the district has to distribute it evenly. Funding is an important issue for education in Mississippi but it is not the most important one. Better resources and money would produce better results but a quality education can be achieved in certain circumstances.

  18. Kendall Wells says:

    If being ranked last in education isn’t enough motivation to properly fund Mississippi’s education system, what is? I’m not properly educated on this matter, but one suggestion could be to make education one of the highest priorities when it comes to funding. If there is a specific amount of money meaning to go towards education, then make sure that specific amount goes towards it before it goes towards anything else. This would cost more money, but the state could have people go to schools and evaluate teacher for at least 3 days or more. Most teacher evaluations last for an hour or less, so the teachers give a lesson and worksheet and pass the evaluation. In order to have engaged students, you need more engaged and encouraging teachers. We should have more thorough teacher evaluations. It could kill 2 birds with one stone to have 1 great teacher assigned to 20 students rather than 2 o.k. teachers assigned to 10 students each.

  19. Kayla Patel says:

    Proper education is everything in this world when you are trying to get a job, there are very few jobs now that do not require a high school or even junior college degree. There are many ways to fund education without raising taxes, we just have to have think and come up with ideas. We waste handfuls of money every day, and if we could channel that wastefulness into funds for education, we would not struggle as much. Mississippi especially needs to work on the education budget. Even the money that we get from the budget is miss used with the schools, mainly the schools that put sports ahead of education.

  20. Sarah Swiderski says:

    Considering Mississippi’s social services, there aren’t a lot of places to make budget cuts. We do, after all rank last or next to last in a number of categories which, being a poverty hub of America, is a catalyst for disaster. This is just why education is so important-to attempt to better the future through the next generation. There are, however, two long term solutions which come to mind. The first stresses business in Mississippi-if more (god forbid) corporate businesses came to Mississippi, it could potentially generate greater wealth into the small scale economy. Another solution is exemplified by the Scopes Monkey Trial of the 1920’s. Dayton, Tennessee was just another Southern, impoverished town before staging a trial over the issue of evolution as a publicity stunt. If one were to call this a desperate attempt, they would be absolute correct, but the problem in Mississippi is just that-desperate.

  21. Mariana Strawn says:

    Education should be at the forefront of the mind of every political leader. It is only a simple fact that without education we cannot continue to progress. In terms of MAEP, we cannot know the full extent of it success or its failure without fulling funding it. It should at least have 5 years of being fully funded before we disregard it. But why do we struggle so much to fund education? Why is it that we are so eager to fund other programs without a second thought at investing in our future generations? If we are to truly turn around our education system then we must attract better teachers and fully fund education, be it through the cutting of other programs or at a last resort the increase of taxes.

  22. John Bowlin says:

    I feel as if we are going blind into this. It’s only been done a couple of times so how do we know if it actually works. Funding eduction more has failed time after time and I think instead of wasting money on these useless proposals we should use that money to actually fund education. Education should be a higher up on the priority list than it is. Raising taxes wouldn’t help because they would literally just keep the money as they do now.

  23. Erin Owens says:

    I feel that administration should be cut. The administrators that are doing their jobs to truly benefit the students will most likely stay. The system they have in place for spending money on education is obviously not working. The MAEP should be fully attempted to see its affects.

  24. Samuel Patterson says:

    No matter how much you tidy inside of a house, if it was built on a faulty foundation it will fall. That is certainly true for Mississippi’s educational system and many of its implemented legislation. While changing the formula would possibly improve the educational situation in Mississippi , we still will occupy the last spot in education. Major reform is needed.

  25. Jagger Riggle says:

    Mississippi is very traditional, and very Christian. That means not a lot of people want the sale of alcohol. However, there are a lot of people who still want it and/or drink illegally. Pontotoc County was a ‘dry county’ until just recently. Even then, it was the sale of alcohol was only allowed in the city, and it only won by four votes. There are quite a bit of people in the state of Mississippi, so if all the counties became ‘wet’ by allowing the sale of alcohol, then there would be extra tax revenue for the entire state. It would not solve all the problems, but the tax revenue could help. Then, all the taxes that are collected could be distributed to education first and infrastructure second. Also, better management for money could be utilized. Instead of spending the money on unnecessary things, we could use the money to help the state at the local level. For example, Pontotoc City Officials decided to build splash pads in several locations across Pontotoc City. Being a small town, most people go to nearby Tupelo or Oxford to do things after work. These splash pads may seem like a good idea, but it is not as important as repairing and expanding some of the worn and crowded highways and roads that go through town.

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