The Mississippi Senate has quickly passed a charter school bill that, if approved, by the House, will dilute the money available for public education and set up a system of competing schools not supervised by the state Department of Education.
The latest attack on public education, led by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and the Republican legislative leadership, came on a 31-17 vote in the Senate. Fortunately, our senator, Nickey Browning of Pontotoc, was one of those who opposed the measure.
The bill would allow an unlimited number of charter schools to be created. Only in districts with A or B ratings, such as New Albany and Union County, could the local school boards veto their creation.
The legislation creates a board, mostly filled with appointees of the governor and lieutenant governor, to supervise the schools. It would not be a part of the state Department of Education, which supervises our public schools.
Not only is the bill heinous, but it also was approved in committee after a secret meeting of the committee members with Reeves. No copy of the bill was made available to the public before the committee voted.
Reeves’ brazen disregard for public openness in government is a new low point for a public official once regarded as an up and coming politician in the state. His focus on beating the drum for private and charter-school interests, instead of pushing to fulfill the state’s legal obligation to pay for its existing public schools leaves us cold.
We cannot afford more schools. And we cannot afford to continue being the only state that does not provide public money for early childhood education.