Why can’t all public schools be charter schools?

I’ve often heard posed the question, “If charter schools are so great, why not make all public schools charter schools?” Here’s the answer…

Traditional public schools are required to educate any child who lives within the district walks through the schoolhouse door. While charter schools are prohibited from discriminating based upon race, religion, etc., they can – and often do – impose certain requirements on students and parents. For example, many charter schools require that parents and students sign a contract agreeing to complete all homework assignments, attend school regularly, abide by all behavioral requirements, etc. If a parent or child fails to live up to the provisions in the contract, the student can be dismissed or “counseled out.” KIPP refers to these as “regrettable withdrawals.”

The ability to dismiss or counsel out students who are deemed uncooperative is one of the few things that differentiate charter schools from traditional public schools – and is often appealing to the parents and students who do toe the line. 

But our constitution says that all children are entitled to a free and proper education – even those who don’t always do their homework or who are frequently tardy or who sometimes commit minor behavioral infractions. That job falls on traditional public schools. Allowing all public schools to dismiss difficult students would harm our state and violate our constitution.  And that is why they can’t all be charters. 

It behooves all of us for every Mississippi child to have access to a free and proper education; an educated populace improves the quality of life we all enjoy. Hats off to the traditional public schools – and to some charters – that provide that valuable service!

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