Meridian Star

New Today

June 26, 2013

Miss. charter school advocates form association

JACKSON, Miss. — Groups that pushed for the passage of Mississippi's new charter school law have formed an association to promote the schools.

The Mississippi Charter School Association's creation was announced Tuesday at a meeting to encourage people who might be interested in creating such schools to start organizing.

It's being founded by supporters of the law including the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, Mississippi First, Black Alliance for Educational Options and Better Education for Mississippi. All supported the expansion of power to create charter schools in the 2012 regular session of the Legislature.

The law takes effect Monday. It expands authority to create charter schools — public schools run by private groups that agree to meet certain standards in exchange for less regulation.

Advocates say they plan to try to recruit nationally-known charter organizations to Mississippi to run schools, but the 75 attendees at Tuesday's session were mainly Mississippi residents who might want to start a new organization.

Scott Shirey, executive director of a group of charter schools in Arkansas run by the Knowledge is Power Program, said KIPP is interested in coming to Mississippi, but voiced concerns over some parts of Mississippi's law, including a ban on students crossing district lines, a requirement that 75 percent of teachers hold state certification, and the ban on schools participating in the state Public Employees Retirement System.

Doris Phillips, of Gloster, for example, said she and others in her town would like to create a charter school to replace the public school that was closed two years ago by the Amite County school district in a consolidation move. But that could be hard because there are only about 1,000 students attending all of the Amite County schools now, and under the current law a Gloster charter couldn't reach across the line into nearby Wilkinson County to recruit more students.

Phillips said she felt like she had a head start, though, because she had worked in charter schools in Missouri, Arkansas and Georgia, and because the community was already raising money to buy the former public school building.

Jennie Sturgis, the owner of Noah's Ark Day Care Center in north Jackson, said she'd like to start a K-3 school in addition to her child care business, saying she wanted to catch students "before they become a failure."

"I know it's going to be a tremendous task, but I'm committed to it K-3," Sturgis said.

But charter school veterans from other states warned that getting an application approved and then successfully starting a school would be tasks that might exceed the ability of many.

"There are people in this room who have no business educating kids," said Ken Campbell, the president of Black Alliance for Educational Options. "That's not a bad thing. There are other ways to support this process."

Next up will be appointing a seven-member authorizing board to solicit and approve charter school applications. Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves each get three appointments, while the state superintendent of education gets one.

The board would begin operations Sept. 1 and seek proposals for schools by Dec. 1.


Text Only
New Today
Biz Marquee
New Today

Do you think the city of Meridian should aggressively enforce the city's code enforcement laws on litter, abandoned homes and overgrown lots by issuing tickets and stiff fines?

     View Results
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction Malaysian PM: Stop Fighting in Ukraine Cantor Warns of Instability, Terror in Farewell Ravens' Ray Rice: 'I Made a Huge Mistake' Florida Panther Rebound Upsets Ranchers Small Plane Crash in San Diego Parking Lot Busy Franco's Not Afraid of Overexposure Fighting Blocks Access to Ukraine Crash Site Dangerous Bacteria Kills One in Florida Workers Dig for Survivors After India Landslide Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide