A Mississippi state lawmaker is now admitting he opposed putting more money into elementary schools because he came from a town where “all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks.’ They don’t work.”
In an interview with the Clarion-Ledger, state Rep. Gene Alday (R) says he doesn’t see the value in increasing funding to improve elementary school reading scores. Alday implied that increasing education funding for children in black families would be an exercise in futility.
He also told the newspaper that when he was mayor of Walls, MS, trips to the emergency room had taken a long time due to his black constituents. “I laid in there for hours because they (blacks) were in there being treated for gunshots.”
At issue is something called Mississippi’s “third grade reading gate,” a measure passed in 2013, which won’t allow students to advance to fourth grade if they can’t read proficiently.
The point of contention is that the idea for the policy came from Florida, where the state invested about $1 billion into schools to pay for reading coaches, teachers and increased attention to students who struggled with reading.
Some argue that if Mississippi is going to adopt some of Florida’s education policies, they would also have to make the same financial investment. But Alday disagrees and staunchly opposes increasing education funding that would go towards urban communities. “I don’t see any schools hurting,” he said.
As a result, Mississippi school superintendents expect to see more than 28 percent of their students forced to repeat third grade.
“We are setting these kids up for failure,” predicted Nancy Loome, executive director of the public education advocacy group, The Parents’ Campaign.