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This opinion piece by Reverend Johnathan Tullos has been featured in the Mississippi Free Press and other news media websites.  Rev. Tullos’ connection with Parents for Public Schools began in 2018 when he served on a panel discussion focused on the importance of keeping public dollars in public schools  

Mississippi native Rev. Jonathan Tullos is a United Methodist pastor currently appointed to the Americus Parish (Pleasant Hill/Salem) just outside Lucedale, Miss., where he lives with his wife Jessica. Tullos is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ky., where he earned a Master of Divinity degree, and a graduate of Liberty University, where he majored in Religion. He was commissioned as a Provisional Elder in the Mississippi Annual Conference in 2018 and ordained an Elder in Full Connection in 2022, though he has been serving in pastoral ministry since 2012.

As a pastor serving a vibrant community in Mississippi, I feel compelled to address an issue close to my heart and vital to our state’s future: the funding of public schools. My perspective is rooted in faith, community service, and a commitment to the well-being of all our children.

Recent enrollment data from the Mississippi Department of Education indicates that 90% of our state’s students are educated in public schools. This statistic isn’t just a number; it represents the future of Mississippi, the young minds that will shape our community and our world. Their education, I firmly believe, is not just a necessity but a sacred duty, a sense I believe we share as a state.

The foundation of our stance on this issue can be found in the Mississippi Constitution itself. Article 8, Section 208 clearly stipulates that public funds are not to be used for the support of private schools. This constitutional directive is not just a legal mandate; it is a moral compass guiding us towards equitable education for all children, regardless of their background.

Let me be clear: I have nothing against private schools. They play an essential role in our educational ecosystem, offering diverse choices for parents and students. Indeed, parents should have the freedom to choose the best educational path for their children, including private education. However, this choice should not come at the expense of public education.

Redirecting public funds to private schools undermines the very essence of our public education system – a system that is meant to be universally accessible, equitable, and a leveling field for all children, regardless of their socio-economic status. Our public schools are more than just institutions; they are communities – diverse, vibrant, and inclusive. They are where our children learn not just academics, but life lessons in citizenship, community, and coexistence.

Investing in public education is investing in the future of Mississippi. It is about giving every child a fair chance to succeed, to discover their potential, and to contribute to our society. I urge our state leaders, policymakers, and all stakeholders to prioritize the funding of public schools. Let us honor our constitutional commitment and moral obligation to educate all children in a fair and equitable manner.

In faith and hope for a brighter future,

Rev. Jonathan Tullos
Summit, Mississippi