BY: B. Keith Plunkett | UCF Staff @Keithplunkett
The Parents Campaign is at it again, this time lobbying for the passage of Initiative 42 in public schools and breaking state law in the process.
We first uncovered the group’s illegal action in 2012 at MississippiPEP.com when Nancy Loome, the organizations director and head lobbyist, was attempting to defeat Charter School legislation by working with Superintendents and Principals to require teachers to sit through a power point presentation on the evils of competition in education.
Now, they’re using illegal tactics to get teachers to send home forms with the Parents Campaign logo emblazoned across the top to students parents to promote Initiative 42, even going so far as to ask teachers to require that parents sign the form and send it back as if it were official correspondence from the schools. Teachers who get the most signed forms are being promised a chance at $100 Visa gift card. (See Below)
Last week, government school leaders were reprimanded and told to remove information from school district websites promoting Initiative 42, but this is the first time the Parents Campaign has been caught publicly in the act of using Superintendents and Principals to require teachers to participate in promoting Initiative 42.
According to a teacher working in one public school who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the principal of the school handed out the forms she received from the district superintendent to teachers during a required meeting. If this is happening there then it’s a good chance it is happening in other districts and schools, too.
Initiative 42 is terrible public policy. It would not only be a blank check for the public school system in Mississippi that has shown numerous times the tendency to change whatever rules they want in order to keep garnering more and more taxpayer money; It would also hand direct power of legislating to a single judge who could consolidate school districts and implement curriculum changes, including further solidifying the federal scheme of Common Core.
Initiative 42 would be a free-for-all for superintendents and administrators in poor school districts who already, as data clearly shows, waste huge amounts of money on non-educational expenditures.
Supporters of the initiative have been changing the supposed intent since the beginning. Inititally it was to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Act (MAEP). MAEP is an unproven, untested and flawed formula developed by an out of state consultant in the mid 90’s. Legislators have only seen fit to fund it twice since then as a result and state officials have called into question the ability of taxpayers to account for the spending.
State officials should immediately call for a full investigation and disciplinary proceedings against The Parents Campaign and any participating superintendents and principals in this violation of state law with respect to using school principals and teachers, and taxpayers resources, for a political agenda.
Keith Plunkett is the Policy and Communications Director for the United Conservatives Fund. He has worked on communications and policy issues with a range of public officials from aldermen to Congressmen, and a variety of businesses, government agencies and non-profits. He serves or has served as a board member of several non-profit, civic and political organizations. Contact him by email at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Keithplunkett