House Committee Passes Charter Schools Bill

By: Mike McDaniel Email
By: Mike McDaniel Email

The debate over charter schools was back in the spotlight at the Mississippi capitol Wednesday.

The House Education Committee passed the measure 14-12.

But before a vote was taken, committee member and co-author of the bill, Rep. Chuck Espy, led the charge for its passage.

"I have been a lawmaker for 12 years and I have failed you in public education. And I'm telling you today, the buck stops here and we will pass charter schools."

Espy joined advocates with the Black Alliance for Educational Options to send that message to fellow lawmakers.

Espy says he's not against traditional public schools and only wants to give parents an option for better and more competitive education.

"In public education, we have forgotten over the years," he said. "We have become accustomed to letting things just slide by. We have become accustomed to sitting here for over 30 years in Mississippi with terrible education for our children."

The bill would allow charters to open anywhere in the state, subject to the approval of an authorizing board.

The Mississippi Senate already passed its version of a charter schools bill. While most lawmakers agree there will be some type of charter legislation passed, there's a possibility it'll come from a conference committee to work out the details between the two versions.

If those details aren't hammered out, both versions could fail and the state would be left right where it is.

But Espy, as well as Sen. Kenneth Jones are optimistic.

"Once we get everything worked out, we're going to have a very good charter school bill for Mississippi and we're going to do what's in the best interest of the children and we're going to work along with public schools," Jones said.

While opponents argue a charter system will only hurt traditional public schools, especially financially, these two lawmakers disagree.

"The same legislators that support charter schools in Mississippi are also going to try to fully fund the public education system," said Jones.

"The money simply follows the child," said Espy. "So if you just allocated or fragment those dollars per pupil you cannot hurt public education."

The House bill will now go to the full House for debate. If both the House and Senate bills fail, lawmakers say they will put them back on the table next session.

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  • by Mom of Student Location: Lauderdale County on Feb 29, 2012 at 07:58 PM
    Mississippi needs year-round schools. That would keep the kids busy and off the street. Get rid of no kid left behind and STOP teaching the MCT and let the kids learn all they can! Mississippi is a disgrace when it comes to education.
    • reply
      by anonymous on Mar 1, 2012 at 06:41 AM in reply to Mom of Student
      No Child Left Behind is a federal issue, honey...not a Mississippi one.
    • reply
      by Lauderdale County Parent on Mar 1, 2012 at 11:10 AM in reply to Mom of Student
      I would have to agree with the parent that stated,"Mississippi is a disgrace when it come to education." My reason for this is because I have never seen a place where so many children are failing and the school does not have a tutorial program. The school uses 7:30 a.m. until 8:00 a.m. for what they say is tutorial time. My question is, what if the children need tutorial in more than one subject? What then? How are the children being serviced? In my opinion, the MCT and Subject Area Tests are failing our children. They do not have a fair chance to a good education. You also have so many educators in the schools now that do not care about the children education. How can you as an educator sit in a classroom everyday and consider yourself a teacher when you have several students failing and it doesn't bother you. You don't contact parents, you don't try to help those students at all. You just return each and everyday and do the samething over and over and over. How can you rest at night? This one school in particular in Lauderdale County has a grading system that is intended to fail children. Each teacher sets his or her own grading scale. Some have test that count 60%, quizzes 20% and homework 20%. A child can do all of his/her homework and pass all of his quizzes and still fail the class if he/she is not a great test taker. Now, this is what we have to deal with in Mississippi Schools.
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