Crawdaddy

New PAC wants louder public education voice in Legislature

PAUL HAMPTON

jphampton@sunherald.com

The Sacramento Bee/MCT

Looks like Empower Mississippi is getting some competition in the battle to transform public schools.

A news release says the Mississippi Public Education Political Action Committee founders include public school mothers from Gulfport and Julia Weaver of Ocean Springs. Weaver is a former alderman-at-large and founder of the pro–public schools group Fed Up With 50th.

Empower has been putting money toward legislative candidates who back its school-choice agenda that favors charter schools. Opponents of charter schools say they take money away from already underfunded public schools but don’t perform any better.

More on the new PAC from the press release:

“A group of passionate public school parents from around the state have banded together to form the Mississippi Public Education Political Action Committee to advocate for strong public schools. The mission of the nonpartisan grassroots PAC is to help elect pro–public education candidates to the Mississippi Legislature in order to strengthen, support and protect existing public schools in the state.

“The PAC was formed to protect all children in existing public schools — from the state’s most gifted to the most vulnerable — by encouraging legislative support for public education.

Tupelo resident and Mississippi Public Education PAC board member Kate Farabaugh is quoted in the press release.

“Considering that 90 percent of Mississippi students attend public schools, it’s important for public education stakeholders to have a clear, united voice in the political process. Last year’s disappointing legislative session was full of controversial bills designed to threaten our schools and silence educators. We expect these kinds of harmful attacks to continue if unchallenged. That’s why we collaborated to establish this PAC.”

Farabaugh also is a founder along with Leslie Fye of Starkville and Weaver. The PAC includes an advisory committee consisting of public school mothers from Gulfport, Oxford, Ridgeland and Vicksburg who have worked behind the scenes to form the PAC.

According to the release, the PAC will provide financial resources to campaigns of legislative candidates on both sides of the aisle who will stand up for strong public schools.

The release went on to say the PAC’s other guiding principles include:

▪  Ensuring that public dollars (local and state taxes) are used to fund public education

▪ Urging leadership to exercise caution in funding experimental education programs and insisting that such decisions be guided by the education leaders in local school districts

▪ Supporting local control of public education and fostering respect for professional educators

▪ Advocating for funding to meet state and federal mandates

▪ Insisting that resources and policies seek to retain and recruit highly qualified educators in every classroom

▪ Supporting academic and financial accountability measures that are fair to students and teachers and helpful in improving student achievement

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