Candidate Q&A: House District 23

Election 2023

Our public education questionnaire is offered to candidates in statewide and legislative elections. Search for candidates’ questionnaire responses below. Election dates: Primary – August 8, 2023, General – November 7, 2023

General Election Candidates:
Andy Clark  •  Danny Lampley  •  Andy Stepp

Perry Bailey (Incumbent - defeated in primary)


Andy Clark


Danny Lampley

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family?
As a citizen of Mississippi for more than 50 years, I attended Mississippi public schools and recall clearly some of the lack of resources available to me as a student. My family moved to Mississippi during the second half of my 6th grade schooling from Alabama and before that from Florida. I personally observed the differences in schools across states and districts. I noted the outcomes for my siblings’ children as they left Mississippi for better opportunities and attended better schools. In my experience, things have not improved nearly as much as they should have after 5 decades. In my law practice over 3 decades, representation of students regarding IDEA and disciplinary matters has been a substantial part of my work.

2. Do you agree that the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) should be fully funded every year? If yes, what actions will you take to ensure full funding? If no, explain why.
Of course. I was heartbroken when ballot initiative #42 failed. Since the passage of MAEP and the failure to consistently fully fund it, our legislature has failed at least 3 whole generations of Mississippians. A promise was made and it was broken – to the harm of all of us and our State. If elected, I will work with interested colleagues to pass legislation that makes it clear that “shall” means shall and the MAEP *must* be fully funded every single year. I will also work to amend our state constitution to revert to, or adapt, former broad language in the 1868 constitution requiring the State of Mississippi to fully fund a free, equal, and uniform public school system, to wit: “As the stability of a republican form of government depends mainly upon the intelligence and virtue of the people, it shall be the duty of the Legislature to encourage, by all suitable means, the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral, and agricultural improvement, by establishing a uniform system of free public schools, by taxation or otherwise, for all children between the ages of five and twenty-one years, and shall, as soon as practicable, establish schools of higher grade.”

3. What will you do to ensure state revenue that is sufficient to provide all of the services Mississippi’s citizens need to lead productive lives?
Work to repeal the tax cuts of recent years that were given to corporations and to people who never needed it. Work to establish a state minimum wage to help provide a solid footing for workers so they can earn enough to pay taxes and to broaden their own self-employment ambitions. Work to establish a state small business administration to assist family-owned and sole proprietor businesses with grants, loans, and technical assistance in an effort to create a real middle-class in Mississippi able to pay taxes and grow our economy so that revenue will also grow. And, most importantly, instead of bribing corporations to come to Mississippi, we should make an educated populace our selling point to bring in outside investment in the State.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not?
I will oppose vouchers for any reason and at every opportunity. What is not flatly unconstitutional is most certainly stupid policy. No vouchers! No cannibalizing public funds needed for public schools!

5. Do you agree that all K-12 schools that receive taxpayer dollars, including private voucher schools, should be accountable to taxpayers for the quality of education they provide, using the same accountability measures as public schools?
Of course.

6. Public schools serve the vast majority of Mississippi students with disabilities. Do you agree that special education services in public schools should be fully funded every year? (Special education has been underfunded by the state every year since 2008.) If yes, how will you accomplish full funding? If no, explain why.
In the first instance, fully funding the MAEP should go a long way toward closing the special education funding gap – but only so far as the State’s obligation. To the extent there might be anything in the MAEP that should be amended – this only after there has been at least 3-4 years of consistent full funding to see what weaknesses in the formula might appear – I would guess an area of weakness will be in special education services. If fully funding the MAEP does not adequately fund special education services, obviously there needs to be more funds provided. Moreover, Congress has *never* funded more than some 30% of *its* obligation. I would work with our Congressional delegation to the extent possible to attempt to also pull more funding from the federal government.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide?

8. The nation’s top teachers say that the greatest barriers to school success for K-12 students are family stress, poverty, and learning and psychological problems. What steps do you believe legislators should take to alleviate these obstacles for Mississippi children?
Again, the same answers apply that would help ALL of Mississippi’s residents. Provide the opportunity for our people to make a living wage; build out our middle class; foster home-grown businesses; tax those who can afford it; provide healthcare so people are able to work; get us off the bottom of everything good and off the top of everything bad. Specifically for public education: counselors in every building; highly-qualified teachers in every teaching position; music, language, arts, athletics beyond football and basketball (no more unqualified coaches teaching American history!). We need to put a moon-shot plan together to ask Congress to fund a radical experiment where we make an education in Mississippi a world-class education – one that when a person states they went to school in Mississippi it impresses anywhere in the nation and in the world. It is our way to forever make this State better.

9. In the 2022 Legislative Session, a significant teacher pay raise was passed. Do you support continued pay increases to ensure that Mississippi’s teacher salaries keep pace with inflation and salaries in our neighboring states?
Yes. And it wouldn’t hurt if we were slightly ahead of the curve on something good for once.

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature?

11. Legislators have little or no staff to help them understand the many bills they must consider. Before introducing or supporting a bill that could affect public education, will you commit to seeking input from teachers, principals, superintendents, and parents of public school students in your district? Who will be advising you on education policies?
How could any legislator not seek input from the stake-holders in any bill? I will welcome your input and your advice.

12. In the past, legislators have received tremendous pressure from the leaders of their chamber (House or Senate), state and party leaders, and corporate lobbyists, to vote in ways that could contradict the will of their constituents and harm their communities. How would you respond to such pressure?
I am too ornery to care about the views of those who want to harm our citizens and too used to being poor to be bribed. Frankly, I will be shocked if I am actually elected. I will consider that I will likely only get one term to do the right thing so that is what I will do.

Andy Stepp


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