MADISON — I am the product of the Mississippi public school system. Both of my parents were public school teachers in Mississippi, and my husband currently works within the public school system in Mississippi. My three children are receiving their education within our public schools, and my oldest has been in three different public school districts since she began kindergarten.
This is what I know. My children are loved and supported by wonderful teachers, and are being shaped in a positive way by their experience within our community public schools.
This is what I know. Ninety percent of all school-age children in Mississippi are educated within our public schools. Supporting public schools is a faithful response to my call as a person of faith to love my neighbor. Every child has the right to an education, and the best way for this to be fulfilled is for us to support public policies that ensure access for all children to free public school.
This is what I know. Mississippi is not currently providing adequate funding to meet the needs of every child because Mississipi is not adequately funding our public schools.
This is what I know. In the last seven years, Mississippi public schools have suffered their worst underfunding ever. By underfunding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, our Legislature is fostering inequity, and every child in every community deserves equitable, fully funded public education.
This is what I know. Mississippi pays our teachers less than any of our neighboring states.
This is what I know. Funding matters. I am always amazed at what our teachers and our schools do for our children with the limited resources available. Just imagine what fully funded public schools and supported teachers could do?
This is what I know. When we vote on Nov. 5, a faithful response is one that votes for our public schools. A faithful response is a call to invest our time, energy, and resources into making our public schools the best they can be so that every child has access to clean and functional facilities, updated technology, programs for the arts and STEM, and teachers who are valued and paid a competitive wage. We cannot accomplish this by diverting funds through vouchers or charter schools that have no oversight and that drain much-needed resources from our public community schools.
A faithful response is one that invests in our children, and in our teachers and their families. Let us proclaim that we believe every child is of sacred worth, made in the image of God, and worthy of our time, our energy, our resources and our love. As a people of faith, let us say to our children, you matter.
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• The Rev. Dawn Douglas Flowers is the pastor of Parkway Hills United Methodist Church in Madison.