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The Confusing School Funding Vote in Mississippi; School Funding Accountability Fails to Pass

The Confusing School Funding Vote in Mississippi; School Funding Accountability Fails to Pass

On Mississippi voters' ballots yesterday was the option to vote for Initiative 42 or its counterpart, Alternative Measure 42A.

Initiative 42 read: “Should the State be required to provide for the support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools?

Initiative 42 is a measure backed by supporters who wanted to see higher school funding for the state’s public schools. The initiative would have provided power to the state’s judiciary system to hold the Legislature accountable after supporters say it “continues to break its 1997 promise to provide adequate funding.”

Alternative Measure 42A, on the other hand, was developed by conservative lawmakers as an alternative measure and read: “Should the Legislature provide for the establishment and support of effective free public schools without judicial enforcement?

Proponents of the alternative measure argued that providing the judiciary with the power to determine school funding would set a bad precedent and would instigate “unintended consequences.” 

Opponents of the alternative measure, however, such as sponsor of Initiative Measure 42 Luthor T. Munford, argued that the alternative measure is a trick that will provide no future plans to define or achieve effectiveness in Mississippi’s schools.

He said, "The legislative authors of Initiative 42A did not put it forward in the hope that it would pass. They do not know what an ‘effective’ system would be. The courts have never defined that term.”

"Rather, the purpose of Initiative 42A is to split the vote of those who favor an amendment so that neither amendment is adopted.”

Unfortunately, the existence of this alternative measure meant a rather confusing ballot for Mississippi voters. The Hechinger Report reported on Oct 25 a statewide confusion from voters looking at sample ballots, indicating some might not have known how to vote for what they wanted. 

Perhaps this is reason behind Initiative 42 failing to pass after yesterday’s voting. It was announced today that Mississippi voters rejected any change to the state’s constitution regarding school funding despite a historic $3 million being raised to garner support for the referendum

Important to note, as well, is that Initiative 42 allegedly received more votes than the alternative measure, indicating that its intention of splitting the vote rather than passing an effective policy may have worked.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

11/04/15

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