The 2013 Mississippi legislative session will not get under way until January, but already the state’s Republican leadership is beating the drum for raiding the public education treasury to create so-called charter schools.
According to an Associated Press report, Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Republican legislative leaders appeared before hundreds of business people last week at Hobnob, a social gathering hosted by the Mississippi Economic Council.
Bryant told the group that charter schools are “desperately needed” and Reeves said he would push for “meaningful school choice, including public charter schools.”
We don’t know what “meaningful school choice” means. In some contexts, it’s a euphemism for re-segregating schools, something all progressive Mississippians would oppose.
We agree with Attorney General Jim Hood who told the business leaders they should spend their money to help elect public officials who support raising revenue for early childhood education programs. Public officials who don’t should be moved out of the way, he said.
Fortunately, the Republican leadership’s plan to pour money into charter schools failed to pass in the last legislative session.
We need to be vigilant in the coming session to push the state to meet its legal commitment to funding public schools, and does go off on a half-cocked plan to create charter schools we cannot afford.
Mississippi will never get out of the bottom rungs of the nation’s education rankings as long as we continue to elect officials who do not support our public schools.