As Mississippi’s public education system still struggles under the yoke of inadequate funding, other legislative and policy issues regarding charter schools, achievement districts, tax credit, and school vouchers loom on the horizon. To combat this, legislation needs to be monitored and communities need to be educated. Additionally, under One Voice, education leaders can come together to share and learn best practices about critical education issues like accreditation, testing, and child restraint policies. This combining of resources allows district leaders to ensure the best educational opportunities for their students.
MAEP & 42
Recognizing the need to change the way education advocates across the state address the delivery of free public education for all children, One Voice began to explore opportunities for a nontraditional coalition-based campaign to increase quality education. Seeking to create a movement to increase civic participation in communities, it was important that a successful campaign be both inclusive and empowering to overcome long-standing racial, religious and regional divides in state politics.
To increase the likelihood of success, we determined it was critical not to anchor the campaign in any individual or organizational identity. Additionally, the work of gathering signatures is grassroots lobbying and thus an Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(4) activity. Under Mississippi state law, ballot measure promoters are required to organize as a political action committee. Considering these factors and polling data, Better Schools Better Jobs was organized as a separate 501(c)(4) entity.
Understanding the importance of the initiative, communities across the state banded together, collecting just under 200,000 signatures and qualifying the measure for the 2015 general election ballot. Initiative 42 would have amended Section 201 of the State Constitution, making free public education a fundamental right for all children and requiring full funding for the MAEP formula. Although the initiative did not pass, education stakeholders remain steadfast in their commitment to improving educational outcomes for students in Mississippi.
MS Prevention of Schoolhouse to Jailhouse Coalition
This is a coalition of parents, students, educators, policy makers, and organizations who have come together to derail the school to prison pipeline in Mississippi through training, policy advocacy at the local and state levels, and technical assistance to families and schools.