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?