Public education is under attack again in Mississippi. The campaign to expand so-called “charter” schools throughout the state has gained more impetus from Gov. Phil Bryant and the Republican-controlled legislature.
Charter schools operate with tax money, often under less stringent rules than required in public schools, and compete directly with them.
The state has failed to provide the level of funding mandated in state law for its public schools. Diluting the inadequate resources even more would be a serious blow to our quality public schools in places like New Albany and Union County.
If we are to have charter schools at all, they should be limited to districts that have been labeled by the state Department of Education as failing districts.
Legislators and the Bryant administration also are being lobbied to permit “virtual charter schools” in the state. These for-profit private companies want to be allowed to get state money for providing courses online, especially at the high school level.
“You basically don’t go to high schools anymore,” Dr. Charles Garrett, New Albany schools superintendent, said. “These schools have been a failure everywhere.”
Any good parent knows that a student sitting at home fooling around on the internet is not a substitute for going to high school. Students need teachers, supervision and the social interaction of attending school.
Mississippi communities are only as strong as their public schools. Communities are best served when all of the students are in the public schools.
The Bryant administration and the legislature need to concentrate on coming up with the money to adequately fund our public schools instead of flirting with bad ideas destined to hurt Mississippi children.