Another year of charter schools in Mississippi, another year without one in the place where they’re most needed. The state Charter School Authorizer Board only approved one this year, and like the other three already in operation, it will be in Jackson.
There’s certainly a need in the capital city for a change, but the Delta is where public education is failing the worst. This year’s rejected applicants included a school in Drew to be run by veterans of the KIPP charter schools in Memphis.
Charter schools, which receive public funds with less of the bureaucratic hassles other districts face, are the best available opportunity to increase competition in public schools and give children from poor families a better chance in life.
- PENDER: Southern Poverty Law Center lawsuit to halt charter schools reeks of “hardheaded politics.”
- New 26-state study shows improvements among poor and minority students in charter schools.
- Plunkett: Education Reform is about allowing morality to rule.
A few years ago the state legislature rightly loosened the restrictions to allow charter schools to operate (previously opening a charter school required local school board approval, which never happened). However, the compromise with the educational establishment for passing the bill was to limit charters to D and F districts. Although that was reasonable, it made it where the Delta, with its small and rural population, could never draw the critical mass of students from just one county to make a charter work.
But the legislature erased that hurdle this year by allowing students from C, D and F districts to cross district lines to attend a charter school. While the authorizer board has been extremely cautious, we hope next year it will give a Delta charter a chance.