Efforts to expand charter schools in Mississippi are front and
center as state lawmakers begin the 2013 legislative session. But
some opponents claim charters will increase segregation.
A panel of five state legislators talked about various issues in
Oxford, Mississippi, Monday at a chamber of commerce event. The hot
topic was a proposed bill that would open charter schools in an
effort to address The Magnolia State's ailing education system.
State Senator Gray
Tollison (R) contends the argument that charter schools lead to
re-segregation is nothing more than a scare tactic.
"There's a lot of misinformation out there," he recognizes.
"We're trying to reach out to serve those students who are in a lot
of poor [schools] -- academically underserved, economically
underserved -- and trying to reach out there to give them the
education that their parents want for them."
He pointed out at the meeting that families who live in
districts with underperforming schools will benefit, as studies
find low-income students excel in such programs.
"It has given an equal opportunity to children who currently
don't have it … an opportunity to succeed," the Republican asserts.
"Whether it's career or college, [charter schools] will give them
an equal opportunity."
Mississippi ranks at the bottom of national lists in K-12
achievement, with a new ranking system showing the state ranks last
in science education.