/Students rally at Capitol, lobby lawmakers to reject rewrite of school funding

Students rally at Capitol, lobby lawmakers to reject rewrite of school funding

Mississippi News Nonprofit Students from seven Jackson Public Schools District high schools gathered at the Capitol Tuesday morning in order to share their stories about underfunded schools. They called on legislators to reject a proposal to rewrite the state’s current public school funding formula. Students were bused by the Jackson Council PTA to tour the Capitol and speak out on important issues. Rosaline McCoy, president of the Jackson Council PTA, said that students were taught four areas of advocacy: fully funding education, making teaching profitable, making kindergarten compulsory, and eliminating testing requirements before graduation. A number of students addressed the press conference, lamenting the poor condition of the facilities and the shortage of teachers. They also voiced their opposition to a House bill that would change the funding of education in the state. Mississippi currently uses the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. It has been fully funded only twice since 1997. Kaitlyn Fowler, a Murrah High School junior, spoke about her experiences with “crumbling infrastructure”, and the problems associated with under-funding schools. She expressed her dissatisfaction with House Bill 957 which would change the state’s education funding formula. “Tell me that decreasing funding will improve our school environments and it’s equal to what I deserve?” she asked the 16-year old. Murrah senior Jeremiah Henry spoke about his experiences in school with substitute teachers instead of licensed teachers, auditorium chairs that were broken and trophy cases that the district couldn’t afford to fix. Henry stated that even with the state’s financial difficulties, House Bill 957 would allow them to pay less. “I ask you people of power to vote against House Bill 957,” Keedrick Palmer, a senior at Jim Hill High School, said that he and his peers are expected success but not given the tools to achieve that. Palmer stated that while we are expected to learn in a classroom with 35 students, Palmer claimed that only 20 books were available. Palmer said that even though all the books in question aren’t in great condition, you expect students to be able to pass exams based on material from these books. He said that you expect us to pass subject-area tests with no teachers.” This is why funding public schools is so important. Today’s crowd-pleasing, noisy event was not interrupted by state officials. Approximately 140 people were expected. Officials admitted earlier in the session that the Capitol event policy had not been strictly enforced. This was after Mississippi Today reported that school choice advocates were permitted to hold large rallies at the Capitol. However, the application by the Jackson PTA group was denied.