It is almost comical the lengths our state’s career politicians are going to in a frenzied effort to defeat Initiative 42, a November ballot measure that requires the state to adequately fund K-12 public education by holding the Legislature accountable to the judicial system.
Virtually every political fat cat in the state – from the governor to lieutenant governor to secretary of state to the leaders of both houses of the Legislature and all of the key committee chairmen – have taken their turns slamming I-42. A competing ballot measure designed to confuse the voters will also be on the ballot, which answers the question:”Just how sleazy can the ruling class possibly be?”
When politicians seek to deliberately confuse voters, they are not acting in the people’s interests. You confuse people in order to exploit them. That’s true every single time.
By now, this much should be obvious: To the ruling class, it is not just about education. It is also about power and who wields it. One of the most popular and most laughably clumsy tactics of the ruling class is promoting the idea that voting for I-42 means giving control of the state’s educational system to “a single judge” in Hinds County.
That rallying cry has been amended lately to “a single liberal judge,” which tells you that the ruling class is really, really desperate. It’s easier to find a Muslim at a Tea Party rally than a liberal judge in Mississippi.
If I-42 passes, that judge will not be running K-12 education. He will be charged simply with making sure the Legislature lives up to its own promises, hardly a radical idea.
So how will the new approach to K-12 education work if I-42 passes?
Here’s a suitable analogy:
You own a rental house. I’m looking for a place to live. You tell me to look around the house, give it some thought and come up with a reasonable rent price. A day later, I return and say, “Based on examining the house, comparing rents in the neighborhood and other things, I believe the adequate amount of rent is $700 per month.”
“Fine,” you say. We both sign a rental agreement.
Now, 18 months later, there is a problem. I’ve only paid the full $700 monthly rent twice during that period. Sometimes, I pay $400, sometimes I pay $500. This goes on for months. One day I get a summons to appear in court. Now I’m thinking, “I’ve got my butt in a sho-nuff sling now. What can I do?”
So I give you a check for $600, puff out my chest and declare, “That’s the most rent I have paid in a whole year! See how committed I am to paying the rent?”
You are not impressed, so off to court we go, where the dreaded “single liberal judge” will settle the issue.
I will tell the judge that you should be content with whatever amount I rent I decide to pay. Besides, you just waste the rent money I pay you anyway. And it’s not like I don’t have other financial obligations, after all. Yes, sadly, if I am forced to pay the whole rent, I’ll have to quit tithing. So, in essence, paying the full rent means cheating Jesus. “Do you want me to cheat Jesus, your honor?” I ask.
How do you imagine the judge will respond? Will he listen to both of us and then draw up a new rental agreement with a new rental rate?
Of course not. It’s not his job to decide the amount of the rent or other particulars of our contract: The only thing he must decide is whether or not I paid the full rent as the contract demanded.
He will tell me that if I was unhappy with the rent, I had ample opportunity to negotiate new terms, something that, in my arrogance, I never bothered to do.
You win, I lose – not because the rent was unfair, but because I failed to honor the contract.
Has he overstepped his authority? Has he “taken over” your rental property? It’s a silly notion.
That, is what voters should be thinking about when they go to the polls on Nov. 3.
If you believe the ruling class should play by the same rules that apply to the rest of us, voting for I-42 is the logical choice, but more is at stake than just that.
This is a defining moment in our educational system. The trajectory of our children’s education and, consequently, the future of our state depend to a great degree on the outcome of this vote.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]