Charter Schools Debated at Capitol

By: Ashley Conroy Email
By: Ashley Conroy Email

Lawmakers continue to debate whether to add charter schools to the state.

The House passed an amendment to Senate Bill 2293 called "Innovative School Act of 2010," which would consolidate twelve school districts throughout the state.

House Education chairman, Cecil Brown, a Democrat, says this is a good alternative to creating a new charter school.

"If you start a new school district, and it's a publicly funded school, like charter schools are, then you're draining resources away from the existing school district, " Brown said.

According to the Mississippi Department of Education, the state currently has fifty-three schools classified as 'failing', and an additional 158 that are considered 'at risk' of failing.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, says changing Mississippi's current education system is long overdue.

"Fifty-three that have failed. Fifty three schools are classified by the Department of Education as failing," Bryant said. "And yet we do nothing."

Schools like in Hazlehurst have been consistently ranked as failing for several years. The state eventually had to take over and removed their superintendent with a state conservator.

Grant Cullen from Mississippi for Public Policy says that adding charter schools could help prevent this by giving parents options.

"If they don't have the resources to send them to a private school, or if they can't home school them or move them to a different district, really they're stuck where they are," Cullen said.

Charter schools has been an ongoing debate between Senate Republicans and House Democrats for several years.

The Innovative School Act of 2010 added on Tuesday was the first time the House has passed a piece of legislation regarding charter schools.

Meanwhile, Wednesday the Senate passed an amendment to the House version that was similar to the initial Senate Bill 2293.

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