The Senate Education Committee has passed a voucher bill that, if enacted, would be a big step toward privatizing public education in Mississippi. That bill could be brought up for a vote of the full Senate as early as tomorrow. Please call your senator as soon as possible.
This legislation, SB 2695, is being promoted as an effort to help children with special needs, but it does just the opposite. It puts kids with disabilities at risk by requiring their parents to forfeit the protections for them that are codified in state and federal law, and placing them in private schools that are not required to provide any special services. The bill’s intent is clear: to divert state funds from public schools to private academies, for-profit, and virtual schools.
Overview of the bill
• The private academies, for-profit, and virtual schools receiving taxpayer dollars are totally unaccountable for those funds
• The voucher schools have no obligation to offer special education services or in any way meet the needs of the child as outlined in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP)
• Parents will have no recourse when their children’s needs are not met
• The bill states explicitly that voucher schools shall not be subject to any accountability or oversight by the state
• The identity of private, for-profit, and virtual schools receiving voucher payments cannot be revealed publicly, meaning taxpayers will have no knowledge of how and where their tax dollars are spent
Click here to see a complete analysis of SB 2695.
Please call your senator immediately with the message: Vote NO on SB 2695! Click here to find contact information for the legislators who represent your school district.
Make no mistake about it, a vote for SB 2695 is a vote to privatize public education. There is nothing in this bill that protects the rights of children with special needs. It is a bill that originated last year with an out-of-state group that pushes privatization and profitization of public education. They have now been joined by an in-state privatization group pushing “school choice.”
School choice is exactly what it says – schools, not parents, are the ones that do the choosing in a system by which private academies and for-profit groups receiving taxpayer education dollars get to cherry-pick the kids they want to educate. Those pushing school choice are saying, “Parents, you’re on your own. The state will provide no oversight or protection for your children’s education.” Accountable public schools will be starved of resources, as they have been for years, and unaccountable profit-mongers will flourish at the expense of children and taxpayers. Read more here.
Tell your legislators that this is unacceptable. We believe our state’s focus should be on building a strong system of free public schools that serve all children well, not some cronyism-inspired system engineered by those who want to make a profit off of our kids. Fortunately, Rep. Nick Bain has introduced HB 814, the Special Education Improvement Act of 2015, which provides real, substantive change for children with special needs that legislators who are serious about helping all children with disabilities should be proud to support. Look for more info about that bill soon.
In the meantime, ask your senator to vote NO on SB 2695, the voucher bill that pushes public education dollars to private academies and for-profit schools at the expense of children with special needs.
This bill could be brought up for floor debate any time between now and February 12, so please make your calls right away.
It is terribly disheartening to know that there are people who are working to diminish our children’s public schools so that their cronies can make a buck. But it is truly inspiring that there are tens of thousands of Mississippians who are standing in the gap for our kids – ready to take on the privatizers and profitizers and those who wish to tear down public schools. With your help, we can win the day for our kids and their schools and ensure a better Mississippi for us all.