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Governor Bryant to Sign Mississippi Charter School Bill Into Law

Compromises in Legislature Yield Limited Opportunities for Parents

CER Press Release
Washington, D.C.
April 4, 2013

Governor Phil Bryant is poised to sign a modest charter school bill into law on April 17, 2013 that would allow for the creation of charter schools. The Mississippi legislature sent the compromised bill to his desk yesterday after falling to pressure from school districts and special interest groups.

“We join our colleagues in acknowledging that this is a step forward for Mississippi, but after sixteen years of debate in a state where only 21% of 8th graders can read at proficiency, parents and students deserve better and more aggressive action from their elected officials,” said Kara Kerwin, Vice President of External Affairs at the Center for Education Reform (CER).

The legislation creates the quasi-independent Mississippi Charter School Authorizer Board (MCSAB) who will have the sole authority to approve charter schools in the state. The law caps the number of charters that can open per year at 15 and has restrictions on enrollment. Charters approved by the MCSAB can be shot down by local school boards if they reside in districts graded an A, B or C by the state with no means to appeal such decisions.

“Strong laws create strong schools. A conclusion we’ve made since 1996 evaluating the nation’s 43 charter school laws,” said Kerwin. “Mississippi lawmakers had two decades of proof to see what works and what doesn’t in charter policy. They missed the mark on most of the key components of strong policy. Incrementalism is not good for all children.”