Charter Schools Hot Topic for Mississippi Lawmakers

(Southaven, MS) Robert Pratt moved from Memphis to Southaven for the good reputation of its schools.

Pratt says his special-needs daughter gets all the attention she needs here, ”Every single one of those teachers in these schools have been exceptional for her.”

School leaders and others in DeSoto worry a push from Mississippi’s Governor and Lieutenant Governor could water down what is already a very good school system.

No lawmakers are denying the need for charter schools in districts where students are struggling, but in high-performing districts like DeSoto, local legislators fear the drain on resources could hurt already good schools.

That’s because money to pay for charter schools would come out of the County schools’ budget.

The Senate tried and tried last year to get a bill passed, but House lawmakers like Pat Nelson put a stop to it, ”I’ve never been opposed to pilot charter schools in the 30 worst performing districts. If they had come to us last year with a bill that had that, it would have passed last year.”

Nelson, who is on the Education Committee, says the Senate already has a bill ready for lawmakers with some problems fixed, but others, which remain and will likely keep it from passage, ”They sent us a draft and it went from 65 pages to 83 pages. They added some things we asked them to fix, but they also added back the virtual schools which is nothing but a moneymaker for special interests.”

Plus he’s concerned too many companies with interests in foreign countries want to come in and run our schools.

That’s why taxpayers like Robert Pratt want Nelson and others to look hard at charter school bills before passing them, ”If it takes money from our schools, no. Because these schools down here are awesome. As far as I’m concerned they’re the best schools around.”

And most here want to keep it that way.

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