Mississippi’s public education system has struggled of late with reforms pushed by Gov. Phil Bryant (R), and at the end of the school year, more than 28% of the state’s third graders will likely have to repeat the grade. Some school districts are scrambling to hire more educators in the hopes of giving the kids a boost, but by all accounts, it’s an uphill battle.
It’s against this backdrop that one Republican state lawmaker offered a unique take on investments in education.
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, Republican state Rep. Gene Alday 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.
According to the Clarion-Ledger piece, Alday, a former mayor of a small Mississippi town and a former police chief, added, “I don’t see any schools hurting.”
As for his views on race, Alday went on to share an anecdote about his trip to a local emergency room. The local newspaper quoted him saying, “I liked to died. I laid in there for hours because they (blacks) were in there being treated for gunshots.”
This appears to have caused a bit of a stir in the Magnolia State.
The Clarion-Ledger’s Sam R. Hall published an opinion piece this morning arguing that Alday should either retire or be thrown out of office by his constituents. The lawmaker’s comments “simply aren’t acceptable by any standard, but they are especially worrisome coming from an elected official,” Hall wrote.
As for Alday himself, the state lawmaker has come up with a defense.
“It was late at night and he called me,” Alday said of his earlier interview with Clarion-Ledger investigative reporter Jerry Mitchell. “He asked me a question back to when I was in law enforcement … I have a way of talking and saying, ‘take this off the record.’”Instead, Alday said, Mitchell used his casual, off-the-cuff comments as an official statement without providing the full context of his feelings on the matter.Mitchell said he contacted Alday about education funding last week and that the legislator steered the discussion toward race. The comments appeared as they were given and within the context of the discussion, Mitchell said.
I’m trying to think of a forgiving context for “all the blacks are getting food stamps and what I call ‘welfare crazy checks.’ They don’t work.” Nothing comes to mind.