Mississippi's public schools have been underfunded and under-performing for years. Their students, especially in the state's poorer districts, face inequitable learning environments and lack the real opportunity to learn that could help encourage their future successes. Despite these very real problems, however, Tuesday's election failed in passing Initiative 42, a proposed constitutional amendment that would have required adequate and efficient funding of the state's public schools. Yet while the parents, students, educators, and advocates who led the campaign for the amendment are disappointed, they aren't giving up on Mississippi and the educational future of its children.
Some of reasons that contributed to Initiative 42 failing are particularly disappointing. The election had very low voter turn out, and the way the amendment was presented on the ballot was deliberately confusing. It required two questions to approve the amendment, with the first asking if voters wanted a constitutional amendment, and the second question asking them to choose between two confusingly similar options: Initiative 42, and Initiative 42-A, which was added by Republican legislators and effectively proposed altering nothing in the state's constitution. While the first question failed (by a narrow margin of about 25,000 votes), Initiative 42 actually received considerably more votes than 42-A.
However, the organizers of the campaign for Initiative 42 aren't interested in assigning blame in how or why the vote failed. Rather, they are determined to continue to the fight for fair and full funding for Mississippi schools. As they said in their statement about the vote:
So many factors play into any political campaign and this one had more than most. It was an uphill climb from the start, but that was the point -- to start the process to guarantee adequate and full funding for our students and their public schools. And so the battle continues.The volatility and rancor on both sides of this issue over the past few months only underscores its importance and the need to continue working to make a difference. While this battle wages, we hope that somewhere in the wings lies the opportunity for cooperation from both sides.
We hope that their determination has indeed started this important process to fully fund Mississippi schools, and that the opportunity they hope for comes swiftly. Their fight for this initiative has from the beginning been driven by their concern for the futures of the children of their state. Those children still deserve well-funded schools, and a true opportunity to learn—and continuing the fight is the only way to progress forward and eventually succeed in giving that to them.