Mississippi Lawmakers Gear Up to Pass Charter School Bill
According to the Jackson Free Press, Mississippi Lt. Governor Tate Reeves said he believes there’s bipartisan support for passing a public charter school bill in the 2013 legislative session. Reeves said he believes a large number of Mississippians and "an overwhelming majority of Republicans" support charter schools, although he added: "It's not a partisan issue." In a related Picayune Item story, Mississippi state Sen. Angela Burks Hill predicted a charter school bill would be the first priority on the legislature’s agenda and has a good chance of being passed. Hill is a member of the Senate Education Committee and recently toured KIPP Delta, a successful Arkansas charter school. “If it can work there, it can work here,” she said. “Charters are not a cure-all but another tool to promote higher expectations. Economic development and education go hand-in-hand…We have some great school districts in Mississippi but we have 45,000 students in failing schools inside successful districts.”
Sources: Jackson Free Press, Picayune Item
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Opinion: Keep Public Charter Schools Accountable
In a Tennessean column, Vanderbilt University Dean Camilla P. Benbow writes in support of the Nashville school district’s decision to close a low-performing public charter school. “In the end, performance should be at the heart of the question of whether to continue or close a charter school. This means looking closely at student achievement on a school-by-school basis…More such decisions may be needed in the years to come.” Benbow points to a Fordham Foundation study showing that low-performing charters are much more likely to be closed than low-performing traditional public schools. She also commends the National Association of Charter School Authorizers’ One Million Lives campaign, which aims to work with authorizers, policymakers, legislators and charter school operators to strengthen charter school standards, close failing charters and open more high-quality charter schools.
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A Model of Success for Rural Charters
On Education Week’s Charters & Choice blog, Katie Ash notes that the Walton Rural Life Center in Walton, Kansas “has been touted as a model of success for rural charter schools,” by Education Sector, the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), the U.S. Department of Education and Education Week. Since becoming a charter, the school’s enrollment has doubled and the school has scored in the top five percent of Kansas schools in both math and reading. Rural charter schools are relatively rare. According to data from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, in 2010-11, only 15 percent of charter schools are rural, compared to 25 percent of rural non-charter schools. A NAPCS report attributes this to factors including budgetary constraints, the inability to offer specialized courses, difficulty in recruiting teachers and principals, challenges in securing resources for special education students, increasing transportation costs and the fact that many states with high rural populations do not allow public charter schools.
Source: Education Week