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Mississippi House Approves Charter School Bill

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 24 Jan 2013 05:09am | comments
rep. Busby.

After hours of debate and a reading of the bill that stretched early into this morning, the Mississippi House of Representatives has approved its version of a bill to allow more charter schools to open in Mississippi. MPB’s Jeffrey Hess reports the house voted to approve the bill after more than 8 hours of debate at the Capitol

While this is the second year Republicans lawmakers in Jackson have pushed for a more relaxed charter school law, this is the first time the whole Mississippi house has debated and voted on the bill.

Representative Charles Busby of Pascagoula defended charter schools as a much needed step to help Mississippi kids trapped in failing schools.

"I am going to borrow a saying from Condoleezza Rice when she said 'we didn't have time for an education evolution. We must have a revolution'. And I want you to help me start the revolution in Mississippi today," Busby said.

During floor debate democrats repeatedly challenged a number of aspects of the 251-page bill and attempted 17 amendments, all of which were rejected.

Opponents think charters schools will drain resources from public schools.

Some, like Representative Adrienne Wooten who represents Hinds and Rankin County question the reasons some support charter schools.

"I don't believe not for one second that you care about us improving the plight of our children because if you did you would not take light of what the data says. The data says is that we need everything other than what you have brought before this body," Wooten said.

The House did approve an amendment to strengthen language prohibiting for-profit organizations from running charter schools.

That change was enough to gather the support of the Parents Campaign, which had been skeptical of the proposals.

Nancy Loome with the Parents Campaign says this bill meets a few key goals.

"Make sure that virtuals would not be allowed because they have such a bad track record. Close the for-profit loop hole. And make sure that these schools would be targeted in areas where children are trapped in chronically under-performing schools," Loome said.

Earlier in the day the state Senate released their charter school bill for the house to consider.

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