Voters on Nov. 3 will get to decide whether to amend the Mississippi Constitution through Initiative 42. If passed, 42 will give a Hinds County judge statewide control over our kids' schools, as well as billions of taxpayer dollars, including nearly half of our state budget. Your voice at the Capitol, representatives elected from your community, will be diminished. Read the amendment for yourself. The text below shows the proposed changes to Sec. 201 of the Mississippi Constitution, with 42's proposed additions underlined and a "strikethrough" for proposed deletions.

To protect each child's fundamental right to educational opportunity, The Legislature the State shall , by general law, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools , upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may prescribe . The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.

In looking at the language, let's first talk about what 42 deletes. Sec. 201 of the Constitution presently gives the legislature authority to pass laws related to the "establishment, maintenance and support of free public schools." 42 would delete every reference to your elected legislature in Sec. 201, including the parts about passing laws and setting conditions and limitations related to education.

Second, let's talk about what 42 adds. 42 purports to create a fundamental right, one that could alter at what age the State must start providing education and which could impact other common sense limitations. Next, and most troubling, 42 gives a court in Jackson the discretion to determine what is "adequate and efficient" for our schools. (Suits against the State and State officials are brought in Jackson as the Capital city).

Third, let's talk about what's not in the amendment. 42 does not limit this new judicial power to funding decisions. In fact, the amendment does not make any mention of funding or the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Let me repeat that for everyone who has been told that the sole purpose of 42 is to fully fund schools: the amendment adds no language to specifically address MAEP or funding.

Because of how broad this new judicial power is, a judge will have limitless authority to engage in education decisions that will affect our children, our schools and our economy. 42 opens the doors for trial lawyers to file lawsuits against teachers, schools and the State for any reason related to whether our schools are "adequate and efficient."

Could these lawsuits include a claim that additional funds are needed? Sure, a judge might exercise that historically legislative function under 42. But lawsuits could also be filed to ask the court to redistributed wealth between school districts. Claims could be made for the permanent imposition of federal curriculum standards. Suits could be brought arguing that consolidation of successful and unsuccessful districts is "efficient." And the decisions made in these lawsuits could result in less parental and local control, higher taxes and cuts to other state programs (ex. law enforcement, roads, health care and colleges).

It is a big gamble to assume that this extensive new judicial power will only be used to increase funding or that it will be used wisely, whether in the name of spending money or "passing" new education law. The gamble is multiplied by the fact that a constitutional amendment is not easily undone.

Interestingly, 42's backers say this judicial power is not new. If that's the case, why are we trying to amend our Constitution to add it? 42's backers say suits will only be filed if the Legislature doesn't do it's job funding schools and that they are not trying to eliminate the Legislature from the process. Deleting all references to the Legislature and including no references to funding is a funny way to back up that argument. What's more, as an attorney, I can tell you that frivolous lawsuits are filed all the time. You don't have to be right to file a plaintiff's case. You don't have to be wrong to get sued. 42's backers encourage people to look at explanations that include language not found in the amendment. The fact remains that none of these other sources become a part of our Constitution if this amendment passes.

Many well-intentioned Mississippians are frustrated with the state of our schools. We all want a better future for the next generation. As a parent, I know I do. 42 is simply not the solution. The path to better schools and better jobs does not run through a Hinds County courtroom, or any individual courtroom for that matter.

Russ Latino is the Director of KidsFirst Mississippi Political Issue Committee and State Director of Americans for Prosperity. He is an AV peer-review rated attorney, whose practice includes business and constitutional litigation. He and his wife live in Madison with their two children.