Candidate Q&A: House District 63

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 Candidate:
Stephanie Foster (Incumbent)

Stephanie Foster (Incumbent)


Dyamone White (defeated in primary)

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family?
My K-12 journey was almost perfect from an educational standpoint. I was a Jackson Public Schools’ student. I had twice as many good teachers as not so good teachers. I credit the majority of my life success to my K-12 educational experience and journey. I wish some could have had some of the amazing teachers I was blessed to sit in front of. I still communicate with a great deal of my grade school teachers to this day.

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.
Yes! The actions I will take to ensure full funding will include voting, of course, advocating and promoting loudly continuously, and working with community organizers to allow for students to visit the capitol to advocate as well. I don’t see leaders voting against the betterment of kids with kids standing there looking at them.

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?
Do not eliminate the state income tax, but indeed eliminate the state’s grocery tax. Restructure tax abatements to where a tax is still paid to the area for education. For example, Nissan did not pay taxes for a certain amount of time. However, ten years after opening, they started to pay some tax and it went to the area’s education (school district). Furthermore, examine other states to see how we can increase state revenue.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not?
Yes! Public schools are free and paid for with tax payer dollars. Other schoolings are by personal choice and preference. It is not our obligation as tax payers to pay for anything private, religious, etc.

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?
Yes! If public dollars are being used in private spaces, the same standards for the public entity needs to be mimicked in the private entity.

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.
Yes! With the rate of students with disabilities rising, we need to partner with other agencies such as health and human services to fill-in the gap for disabled students funding. I would say that the state needs to fully fund education in two ways and let the disabled students funding come from a different pot. We, as legislators, can promote those two different funding mechanisms and search for ways to fully fund.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide?
Yes! It should be mandatory for Pre-K in Mississippi. We are a poor state. We are a state that struggles in the education space. Starting kids early, by one year, would certainly only be a plus for that student. It would be a plus for the parents financially as well. The state’s head-start system needs to be examined as well. I would love to commission a state study of the state of head-starts in the state.

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?
The reasoning behind my candidacy is to improve the quality of life for residents in the state through legislation. My platform is centered on housing, opportunities, unity, safety, and education. Students need to have adequate shelter, parents need opportunities to provide for their families, we all must feel like a team and that we’re all in this together, students must feel safe, and education has to be instilled in the community that it’s of the most importance.

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! I will advocate and promote a steady pay raise increase until we are at the top for the mid-south. A healthy education system translates to a healthy economy. A great education system is an attraction for fortune 500 companies.

10. Do you agree that retired educators (and other retired state employees) should be able to draw their retirement while serving in the Legislature?
Yes! Being a member of the legislature is a part-time job. The pay for members of the house is too low for members to take care of themselves and their families. Also, we should honor those who have served the public by allowing the continuous of their retirement benefit.

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?
Most definitely, I received the suggestion of seeking college interns. While canvassing, I’ve also received the request numerous times to keep the constituents informed by distributing via a newsletter, etc. bills being voted on.

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?
Being independently wealthy, personally. For lack of better words, not relying on the pay I receive as a legislator solely.

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