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:
Charles “Chuck” Blackwell
Charles "Chuck" Blackwell
Christopher Hodge (defeated in primary)
1. What is your experience with K-12 public schools, personally and/or with your children or family?
I graduated from the public school system in Mississippi. All three of my children also graduated from public school system in Mississippi. My wife has been a public school teacher since 1998. She is currently a dyslexic therapist in the Jones County School District.
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. It has been customary for legislators to pass legislation for political appeasement without adequate funding. Funding education is on the top of my list. Our future success as a state depends on an adequate education.
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?
Productivity of a citizen is a direct result of preparedness to face the challenges of life. Each citizen must be equipped to handle these challenges. As we strive to fund education we must determine what actually is working and improve on it. We also must evaluate what is not working and make corrections or discontinue it. This is a moving target that can most effectively be evaluated on a local level by teachers and administrators on all grade levels. I will work to insure we build a ground roots based evaluating program to best fund and utilize all resources as efficiently as possible.
4. Will you oppose vouchers that send taxpayer dollars to private schools, religious schools, home schools, or virtual schools? Why or why not?
I feel public schools are the best way to educate Mississippi children. The only way I would be in favor of any type voucher program is if teachers and students in private institutions were held to the same standards and accountability as in 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.
Yes. We have a significate population of children needing special instruction not covered in the basic classroom setting. Based on my experience watching my wife help dyslexic children cope with their challenges and excel in life after extensive therapy, causes me to be passionate about special education programs. I will take my experience to the legislature and sell fellow legislators on funding and expanding these programs. I can name many very successful people who had special needs in the classroom including our former Governor Phil Bryant. Popular Dyslexics: Albert Einstein, Henry Winkler, and Steven Spielberg.
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?
Each legislator must get involved in his district on a personal level helping evaluate these obstacles for children. Currently, my wife and I volunteer at our local Choctaw Indian reservation spending time twice each week teaching children along with Choctaw adults how to help them cope with real life problems. Each district has its own set of problems. The legislators must connect children with programs in place or create ways to connect children with solutions. Currently I see little or no interest by legislators in accepting any responsibility in solving these issues.
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?
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?
Yes. I am surrounded by educators on a daily basis. I will have a retired principal, current board of teachers, current district superintendent, current principal, and group of parents with children in school.
I will vote for what I feel lines up with my values and the future of our children and the state of Mississippi.