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Mississippi House Rejects ‘Omnibus’ Education Bill

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 26 Mar 2013 05:36pm | comments

The Mississippi House of representatives has delivered a setback to the Governor's education reform package.  Representatives have voted against a one-hundred page omnibus education proposal.

House bill 890 contained a wide range of education changes including relaxing state charter school laws, raising entry standards for teachers and putting more focus on third grade reading

In a 60-58 vote, Representatives decided not to go to conference with senators to iron out differences over the bill, greatly decreasing its chances of passing.

Representative Steve Holland of Plantersville, a Democrat, says the vote could be a bad sign for the future of any charter school legislation.

"Many of us have always taken a dim view of charter schools. We are more interested in advancing a broader based public school agenda than this single item agenda that we think will drain resources from public schools. I think eventually it will die," Holland said.

The key differences between the two chambers is the senate plan would give a veto over local charters to C-rated districts for only three years.

Many House members want A, B and C-rated districts to have permanent vetoes over charter schools.

House Education committee chair John Moore of Brandon says this was not a vote about charter schools, because many of the provision in the package are still alive in other legislation.

"People that go out there and say they didn't want the charter school, that would technically be what they call in my part of the country a falsehood, for lack of a better more gentlemanly word. It is just a stab at the governor is the only way I can characterize it," Moore said.

Representatives have until a Thursday deadline to vote again.

The House Speaker Phillip Gunn is leaving the door open for another vote.

"It sits right where it is at on the calendar. it is still on there for concurrence or non-concurrence. Another motion to invite conference could be made and it could go to conference. It still could go to conference," Gunn said.

Five representatives who voted yes on the house version of charter school legislation switched their vote to 'no' on Tuesday.

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