Candidate Q&A: House District 64

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:
 Amile Wilson  •  Shanda M. Yates (Incumbent)

Amile Wilson


Shanda M. Yates (Incumbent)

1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family?
My entire family graduated/attended public schools. As an adult, I have worked on various projects with the Junior League of Jackson which were aimed at increasing early childhood literacy of JPS students.  During my first 4 years in the legislature I worked with teachers and teacher groups to pass legislation aimed at improving the quality of our PK-12 system including the state’s largest teacher pay raise, 4xs funding for quality preK throughout the state, and a teacher loan repayment program.

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.
We must fully fund our public schools and provide all children in the state with equal access to a quality public education. I will continue to fight for public school funding as long as I’m in office.

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?
Education funding must be a top priority in the state’s budget. Funding a quality education for all children in Mississippi will remain a top priority.

4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not?
State dollars should not be used to fund private school vouchers unless/until public schools have been adequately funded. Vouchers should not be funded from funds designated 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?

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.

7. Do you agree that Mississippi should provide high quality early childhood education statewide?
Absolutely. Increasing funding (by 4xs) for our state’s preK program was a great accomplishment from my first term in office. I’m proud of the work we did in this area and believe that we can move the needle even further.

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?
Placing (and retaining) quality educators in the classrooms will create a stable environment for K12 students to learn.  The teacher pay raise implemented last term along with the teacher loan repayment program should certainly help to curb our state’s teacher shortage/retention issues. We should continue to assess these issues and work to make sure that our classrooms and schools are fully staffed to ensure that all students are having their needs met to the greatest extent possible.

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 am proud to say that we made wonderful progress in this area during my first term in office! I look forward to making sure that our teachers remain competitively compensated while I’m in office.

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?
Absolutely. As an attorney, I am a firm believer in obtaining facts prior to asserting a position in the courtroom. I will continue to employ the same rationale as long as I’m serving in the Legislature.

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 not seeking office for power or money. I am seeking this office to continue to represent my constituents and provide a voice for them at the state level. My vote is not for sale.

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