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Senate Committee To Discuss Charter School Bill

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 20 Feb 2012 05:47pm | comments
Lt. Governor Tate Reeves.

Today, the Senate education committee is expected to examine a bill that would ease the path for charter schools in Mississippi. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the bill would allow charter schools to open in any district, not just low performing ones.

Mississippi currently has a charter school law, but this bill would make it easier to open schools across the state and establish an authorizing board to approve the charters and shut down failing schools.

The bill is being supported by Lt. Governor Tate Reeves who says charter schools are not the silver bullet to Mississippi's education struggles but are part of the solution.

"If you are in a traditional public school that is failing, you don't get shut down. If you are in a public charter school that is failing, you lose your charter. Your charter gets revoked. And I think that is a very important distinction between the traditional public schools and the charter public schools," Reeves said.

This bill would permit charter schools to open anywhere in the state and allow virtual schools that exist only on line.

Charter schools could even open in the highest performing districts...However, in those areas the school board would also have to sign off on a school being opened.

The charters would be approved or revoked by a seven-member authorizing board whose members are appointed by the governor, lt. governor, department of education and institutions of higher learning.

At a charter school hearing earlier this year, David Hansen with National Association of Charter School Authorizers lobbied the committee to have an independent board govern the charter schools rather than the department of education.

"And the state board of ed in many other states is an adequate authorizer but it is not always a very good one either. And the reason for that is the people and the processes that are part of regulating traditional educational schools are not the same as what it takes to adequately oversee charter schools," Hansen said.

Charter schools would receive money from the state based on the number of students they have.

House minority leader Bobby Moak of Bouge Chitto says his support of charter schools could depend on how the schools are funded.

"Those districts who are failing, we need to do something. But those things going so far as vouchers, no I am not here. Those things that are trying to help some schools that are not performing at all? yes sir," Moak said.

If the senate committee approves the bill, it would be sent to the full Senate for floor debate.

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Lt. Governor Tate Reeves.


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