At a December 12, 2012 joint meeting of the House and Senate Education Committees, members heard a description of a charter school bill proposed by Senate Education Chairman Gray Tollison. The bill, as presented, contains a number of provisions that are extremely worrisome. Similar provisions have contributed to a disproportionate number of charter school failures in other states. The bill:
Allows any student to attend a charter school and to cross district lines to do so.
Provides adequate funding for charter schools, which is important in order to enable charter school success.
Sends local funding across county lines.
Allows charter schools in school districts rated D and F and in C-rated districts after June of 2016. Requires local school board approval to establish a charter school in a district rated A, B, or C through June of 2016 and in A and B districts from July 2016 forward. See how this provision makes local boards vulnerable.
Provides for an opt-in lottery system for student selection when applications exceed slots available. See The Parents’ Campaign’s position on charter school lotteries.
Does not require a track record of school success for a charter to be granted, though it does provide that some applicants must include track record information in the application material. See why a track record of success should be required.
Allows virtual charter schools. See why virtual charter schools should be prohibited.
Requires that charter schools be non-profit, but allows a charter to be run by a for-profit management organization. See how for-profit charter schools use this loophole to gain access to public school funding.
Creates an authorizing board made up of political appointees and allows for the removal of board members by those making the appointments.
The public charter school functions as a local education agency (a school district).
Click here to see The Parents’ Campaign’s Seven Principles for Sound Charter School Policy.
Chairman Tollison stated that the bill is a work in progress and encouraged feedback. You can contact Chairman Tollison’s capitol office at 601-359-3244, and you can contact him at work in Oxford at 662-234-7070.
Recently, the National Association of Charter School Authorizers (NACSA) launched a campaign encouraging states to tighten lax charter school laws that have resulted in a disproportionate number of charter school failures. NACSA’s press release stated, “Many authorizers are, in fact, getting it right – and those are the ones with the best schools, including many that are educating high numbers of at-risk students. But too many others are making decisions too influenced by politics, faulty analysis, and bad laws.” Read more about this effort.
I couldn’t agree more. With your help, Mississippi can avoid wasting taxpayer dollars on more failing schools by writing tight charter school legislation that focuses on what the research says works and avoids what clearly doesn’t.