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Mississippi’s Charter School Authorizer Board did what it does best this week: say “no” to people wanting to set up new Charter Schools.
Four of the five most recent applications to establish new Charter Schools were rejected. This included a request from an already successful school in Clarksdale in the Mississippi Delta wanting to expand by opening a high school.

You might imagine that a Charter School Authorizer Board would be in the business of approving new applications. Our Authorizer Board has been cheerfully rejecting applications for years.

In the decade or so since legislation was passed to allow Charter Schools, a grand total of eight have been established. At this rate, it could take a couple of centuries before we get the benefits of Charter Schools that other states already enjoy.

Georgia has more than ten times the number of Charter Schools. South Carolina has more than 70. Even neighboring Louisiana and Arkansas, which each have a comparable number of people living in them, manage 143 and 50 respectively.

Are the quality of applications in our state that much worse than in those states? Or is the public education establishment, which dislikes the competition, more entrenched here?

In their defense, the Charter School Authorizer Board might say that they have a duty to reject substandard applications since that might mean allowing substandard Charter Schools to exist. Are they aware of how substandard many of the non-Charter School alternatives are out there?

The Authorizer Board will not even consider applications for new schools unless they are from F-rated districts. Saying no to Charter School applications in F-rated districts means consigning those children to F-rated alternatives.

Nor is it accurate to suggest the existing charter schools underperform. Every one of the Charter Schools in our state performs better than comparable public schools in their districts. It’s why they are oversubscribed.

We need far-reaching change in the way Charter Schools are approved. Local bureaucrats should not be able to continually stifle their growth.

Having a single Authorizer is wrong. It creates a bureaucratic monopoly. Mississippi should have multiple authorizers in line with other states.

Instead of the Board being required to approve each and every time someone proposes a new Charter School, a change in the law should enable the Board to approve providers to provide – and let them get on with it.

Mississippi’s Charter School Authorizer Board ought to license Charter School providers to go ahead and run Charter Schools. They should not be involved in the details of how and when and where the Charter School providers might provide education.

Any elected official that wants to be regarded as credibly conservative needs to accept that the case for change is now overwhelming.

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Warm regards,

Douglas Carswell
President & CEO is an online news source serving Simpson and surrounding counties as well as the State of Mississippi.


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