Thoughts on Initiative 42

by Bekah Ervin, Emily Hussey, Susannah Williams, and Brianna McField

by Bekah Ervin, Emily Hussey, Brianna McField, and Susannah Williams

contributors

Note: This article was a project for Writing in the New Media submitted to the P&W.

Recently in the state of Mississippi, there was a push to make an amendment that would protect the equality of education for children throughout the state. This would enforce the state legislature’s role of allocating funds to schools, providing proper and adequate public education through grade 12. Unfortunately, Mississippi did not pass the initiative. We were able to interview Jonathan Compretta, co-manager of the Initiative 42 campaign. He explains the amendment and his work with the campaign.

When asked about his reasoning for backing Initiative 42, he began to discuss the importance of better funding public schools in Mississippi. He stated, “Since MAEP (Mississippi Adequate Education Program) was passed in 1997, the state only fully funded it two times. Passing Initiative 42 would have required the legislature to follow its own law and fund MAEP.”  He brought up the commonly known fact that Mississippi is ranked last for many things, and first for things in which the state should not be proud. With education being one of the biggest issues in the state, Compretta believed that it was time to solve that issue. Initiative 42 was the way to do this. He saw it as a challenge he definitely wanted to take on, hoping to have better schools across the state.

As stated before, Initiative 42 and 42a did not pass in the Mississippi November 2015 general election. Here are the election results, according to gulflive.com:

Amendment Education Funding

1,793 of 1,811 precincts – 99 percent

x-Against, 349,677 – 52 percent

Approval, 322,419 – 48 percent

Amendment Education Funding Alternative

1,793 of 1,811 precincts – 99 percent

42, Oth 313,870 – 59 percent

42A, Oth 221,096 – 41 percent

Many theories about the reasoning behind the failing of 42 have come about. Compretta says, “It was a combination of ballot confusion and lack of turnout from voters who would have supported Initiative 42 because there was not a viable democrat candidate at the top of the ticket.  When there is not a candidate at the top of the ticket (governor) there is usually not enough excitement to encourage people to get out and vote.  We experienced about a 175,000 drop-off in voters in 2015 versus 2011.”

Although the amendment didn’t happen, the 42 campaign sees this as a reason to work even harder. Compretta states, “The goal is to turn grassroots support for Initiative 42 into a grassroots effort to hold the legislature accountable in the area of education funding.” He hopes to continue to fight for equality of education for the state and looks forward to the challenges that await him, because better schools matter for Mississippi children.

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