FLOYD INGRAM: How much do you know?
Now, now, everybody just settle down a little!
There is a story on Page One about the Legislature wanting to consolidate Houston, Okolona and Houlka schools and call it Chickasaw County Consolidated School District.
Please read it and ponder what it says, what might happen and how you can logically and legally get your voice and your views heard. And then remember in a Republic, the leaders we elected will make the decisions.
My phone rang off the wall last week, I had people coming to sit at my desk (they were two-deep at one time) and when I went to the City Board of Aldermen, Exchange Club and church, that's all they wanted to talk about.
“We need to do something!”
“You need to write an Editorial!”
“Can they really make us consolidate without a vote?”
Would someone please tell me who the grand ole civic teachers were around here? Mine was Mrs. Raymond at West Point High.
She was a former Major in the U.S. Air Force. She loved her country, she loved her flag and she loved cramming history and government into the hard heads of Ingram boys.
Let's see what I remember.
In Jackson it all starts with an individual lawmakers filing individual bills.
Here are a few already filed this year – by bill number and author -- related to education:
- HB 49 Moore - Educators will be guilty of misdemeanor and fined up to $10,000 if they contact legislators during school day, even on personal phone during break; school board members and superintendents guilty of misdemeanor and fined up to $10,000 if contact legislators at any time about legislation or policy of any kind.
- HB 76 Moore - Forces school board candidates to declare political party affiliation.
- HB 228 Moore - Puts A-rated districts in charge of operating adjacent districts rated D or F for two consecutive years.
- HB 361 Moore – 100 percent tax deduction for private school expenses, $5,000 cap (tuition, fees, uniforms, textbooks, supplies); 50 percent deduction for home school or public school expenses, $5,000 cap.
- HB 469 Moore - Removes requirement that the Legislature fully fund MAEP.
- HB 206 Shirley - Fine schools $1,500 for not reciting Pledge of Allegiance within first hour of school day.
- HB 209 Scott - Mandates daily homework for students K-12 and other requirements in schools rated C, D or F.
- SB 2140 Carmichael - Transfers Office of Educational Accountability from MDE to governor's office; governor appoints executive director.
- SB 2161 Tollison - Charter schools may locate in C districts without local approval; statewide open enrollment in charters; ad valorem taxes follow student.
- SB 2385 Clarke - Broad voucher bill; tax-paid tuition to private schools, home schools, virtual schools and for-profits; no accountability.
And these are only a few of the bills dealing with education.
Are you wound up even more?
Now let's go back to Mrs. Raymond's classroom.
Each of these bills will now be sent to committee, the committee talks it over and makes changes if they want to. The committee then makes a report, it's placed on the calendar and goes to the floor for debate and vote.
Then it goes to the other chamber and goes through a similar process. If it passed both chambers in its original form – and it rarely does – it goes to the Governor for his signature. If it has been changed, the bill is sent to a conference committee, who must reach a compromise, and this conference report compromise goes back to both chambers for a vote. If both chambers adopt the conference report it then goes to the Governor who may or may not sign it.
And having watched state government for more than 25 years, let me just say there are many ways to kill and revive a bill along this simple path.
Yes, pork may go in one end, but something different comes out and it ain't always sausage!
The future is ours
We can only hope the schools involved will form their own community action committees.
But let me warn you there are many around here who want to see public education change. There are many who want to see it privatized. There are many who have gotten their claws into the money pot called education.
There will be blood spilled.
Now before you take up torches and pitchforks, please remember similar legislation was introduced in 2014. It never made it out of committee.
But the Legislature bears watching. This bill could become law and we would be voting on five new school board members in November.
Yes, those community action committees I suggested above should have been formed years ago.
I am urging level heads to prevail and I can only hope the social network trash fades away. There are wise and influential people in this county who can reach out and put their touch on this kind of thing.
And let me say some type of change might not be all bad for education in Chickasaw County.
Real education is based on how much you know and how you use that knowledge. Let's educate ourselves on this issue.
Floyd Ingram is Managing Editor of the Chickasaw Journal. When you call him at 456-3771, be prepared to tell him who your civics teacher was in high school.