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Mississippi Lawmakers Travel To Arkansas To Look At Charter Schools

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 04 Dec 2012 09:33pm | comments
A student studys at KIPP delta school

A group of Mississippi lawmakers is looking across the Mississippi river for ideas about potential changes to the state’s charter school law. MPB’s Jeffrey Hess reports the trip was organized by the Lt. Governor to gather support for relaxing the law

Mississippi lawmakers spent the day touring KIPP Delta, a publicly funded charter school in Helena Arkansas.

Lt. Governor Tate Reeves organized the trip because he believes this type of school could help improve Mississippi education system.

"If it can happen in Helena, Arkansas it can happen right across the river in Clarksdale, Mississippi and all up and down the Mississippi delta and quite frankly throughout our state. And so that is the message we are trying to convey to the members of the legislature. That is the message we are trying to convey to the people of our state. Because that is a message that is worth fighting for," Reeves said.

Roughly 1-thousand kids attend KIPP, with nearly all graduating and scoring higher on standardized tests.

Reeves used trip to try and build support for expanding the Mississippi’s charter school law to make it easier for schools like KIPP to open.

Senate Education committee chairman Gray Tollison of Oxford says charter schools could bring innovation and competition to Mississippi’s education system.

"And there are schools that are working that are doing some innovation but there are also some schools that are not getting it done. And I think the charter concept with these organizations like KIPP need to be involved in education kids. Because there are kids who are being lost in the system," Tollison said.

State interim superintendent of education Dr. Lynn House says if the state does expand charter schools, law makers should look at other areas to see what is working and what is not.

"I think this is a charter school model that we certainly can discuss further in our state. I think there are many other kinds of models but as the legislature considers what it would like to see in a charter school bill, I think this trip has been informative," House said.

State legislators failed to pass a charter school bill last year, and leading Republicans say it will be a high priority again during the next legislative session.

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A student studys at KIPP delta school


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