The state Senate has passed legislation to permit an unlimited number of so-called “charter schools” throughout the state, which would be funded with our tax money.
Hopefully, state House members will exercise better judgment and let the proposal die in the House Education Committee.
Let’s look at the facts:
Gov. Haley Barbour already has cut kindergarten through 12th grade education about $200 million because of an ongoing slowdown in state tax collections. Districts throughout the state, including the New Albany city district and the Union County school district, face eliminating teaching positions for the coming year.
The Barbour administration, no friend of public education, has put forth no plan for increasing revenue, instead predicting the schools will face even greater cuts in the coming year.
Charter schools operate with tax money, often under less stringent rules than required of public schools, and compete directly with the public schools. In Mississippi, we predict adding more charter schools also will lead to greater segregation.
We have said before and we will say again a community only is as strong as its public schools. Communities are best served if all the students—rich, poor, white, black or brown—are in the public schools. We are fortunate in this area not to be plagued with the private or charter school problem.
Mississippi has done an inadequate job of financing its public schools. The situation will only be made worse if more competing tax-supported schools are created.
We believe Sen. Gray Tollison, D-Oxford, asked the right question: “Do you think we need to start a new program when we can’t afford the ones we have now?”
The answer clearly is, “No.”