Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and the Republican leadership in the Mississippi Legislature have gotten what they deserve: a defeat for their ill-conceived plan to raid the public education treasury to create so-called “charter schools.”
They had supported various versions of a bill that would have siphoned off public tax money to support charter schools, which often operate under less stringent oversight than required in public schools, and compete directly with the public schools.
One of the proposals would even have allowed for-profit online companies from outside the state to get public education money to offer high school courses by computer, sometimes under the guise of home schooling.
These bills are the darlings of some ultra-conservative business lobbying groups, private school interests and home school supporters. Fortunately, Mississippians have seen them for what they are – an attack on public schools.
Our position is clear: We are opposed to private schools. We are opposed to home schooling. And we are opposed to charter schools, except in districts labeled failing by the state Department of Education.
The state and our state’s leaders need to get the focus in the right place: providing the minimum level of funding mandated in state law for public schools. So far the state has not met that responsibility.
Then the state needs to fund a statewide pre-kindergarten program. Getting our children ready for public school should be the priority.
Our state leaders are out of touch with the basic needs of Mississippi school children. Our children deserve better.