Opponents of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program are pushing a number of memes about the law and public education in Mississippi to argue their case. Here are how the arguments square with the facts.
Anti-MAEP Meme #1: The state can't afford to fully fund MAEP.
Reality: The Legislature's job is to prioritize and appropriate. The fact that it cannot "afford" education is only true because it prioritizes things like tax cuts for multi-billion dollar companies, like the $1.3 billion break it gave to Nissan in 2013. Furthermore, the state has $400 million in its "rainy day fund" that it could be using to offset disparities in public education across the state if MAEP was a priority.
Anti-MAEP Myth #2: Public-school funding isn't getting to the classroom—there's no accountability.
Reality: The state has put several measures in place to ensure that school districts are held accountable for their spending. The amount of paperwork and recordings required of educators proves it. What is certain is that a voucher system would provide even less accountability because taxpayer dollars could be used in private schools that don't answer to the state and that are not held to the same accountability standards. An alternative is that the courts would need to apply the same testing and accountability standards to private schools receiving public dollars, which would not please many public-education opponents.
Anti-MAEP Myth #3: Public-school funding is being used on administrative costs.
Reality: There is no system in place to use MAEP funds on administrative costs, as MAEP opponents seem to suggest. Local funds pay for a school district's administration, but because public funding has been cut on the state level, and in the classroom, it appears that more is being spent on administration.
Anti-MAEP Meme #4: The public-funding initiative on the ballot in 2015 will put funding decisions into the hands of one judge in Hinds County.
Reality: The last line of the ballot initiative, which mandates that the state provide free and adequate education to all children, says that the chancery court will have the power to enforce the law if the Legislature does not comply. The state adopted a statute that says that any legal action against the state will originate in Hinds County, where the capitol is. MAEP opponents' attempts to race-bait about Hinds County judges don't take into consideration that the Legislature always has the power to decide how they fill fund education; the court just has the power to say that the Legislature will do so. Plus, the chancery court won't get involved at all if the state complies with the law.
Anti-MAEP Meme #5: Mississippi's education problems will not be solved by throwing money at them.
Reality: This one is somewhat true. Yes: small, green, rectangular pieces of paper will not improve the education system in Mississippi. But, like Nancy Loome of the Parents Campaign said, "Almost everything that does improve achievement costs money."