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Poverty and Education, Some Say Charter Schools are the Answer

By Daniel Cherry | Published 19 Oct 2012 05:01pm | comments
A public policy organization continues their push for charter schools in Mississippi, and they're doing it by honoring some of the state's poorest, yet highest performing schools. MPB's Daniel Cherry has more...
 
George Elementary in Jackson is ranked the 15th best performing school in the state, but more than 90 percent of children attending George live in poverty. Principal Mary Ann Bailey doesn't buy into the idea that poverty equals academic failure. 
 
"We can't change what's on the outside, but we make all the changes once they're inside the building. And I tell them that their zip code does not determine who they are or what they can become."
 
Bailey's school received top honors from the Mississippi Center for Public Policy in their Exceed Schools awards. The organization's director, Forest Thigpen, is active in the battle to bring charter schools to the state. Thigpen commends schools like George Elementary for their successes, but thinks other children across the state need similar opportunities.
 
"Parents should not be forced to send their child to a school simply because they live in a certain area. We believe parents ought to be able to fulfill their responsibility to ensure that their children are educated by being able to choose a school that best meets those needs."
 
Opponents of charter schools say they haven't proven successful in other states and they fear the schools would lead to increased segregation. Ann Foster is National Executive Director of Parents for Public Schools. She's not opposed to charter schools...as long as they work.
 
"The great majority, certainly for a long time, are going to be in traditional schools, and to spend all our energy and to put our hope on charter schools without ideas of how to improve all the other schools, I think is very short-sighted."
 
Charter school legislation failed in the Mississippi House of Representatives last session.

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