Charter school legislation backed by top state leaders - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Charter school legislation backed by top state leaders

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Mississippi's educational system could soon get an overhaul if a senate bill becomes law. That bill would pave the way for a charter school system setting up a seven member approval committee before any charters could be granted.  

"Charter schools ought to be allowed anywhere in our state," said Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves who is helping to usher the legislation.

Reeves says parents should have a choice in their child's education and while it's not a remedy for all of the state's educational problems, he says it's a start.  

"We have districts that aren't meeting the needs of kids and this is one measure, one approach," said Reeves.

"I am very excited and encouraged about where we're at," said Governor Phil Bryant.

Bryant supports a charter school system as well and says he's certain the state will have some type of new law by the time the session is over.  

"I know the legislature is going to do a really good job in vetting this process," said Bryant.

Charter schools would still be held to state standards and could have their charter revoked if not successful. There's also a provision in the bill that would allow for the creation of virtual charter schools which means students would never have to even step foot in a classroom for an education.  

It would first have to go through the approval process and then have the charter granted to a non-profit. Reeves says it's yet another way to make education innovative.  

"The use of virtual classes and potentially virtual schools is another way in which that students can be reached," said Reeves.

Some educational advocates feel charter schools should only be allowed in districts with poor academic performance, but Reeves says allowing them anywhere would make average districts strive for better success.  

"I just don't agree with the notion that if you are a school district that is currently rated successful that you're doing an excellent job and that you are doing what best for every kid," said Reeves.

When it comes to funding, both Bryant and Reeves say the money currently being spent on every student, should follow that student wherever they go. That's about $9,000 per student.

While it's a big change on the education front, the state's top two leaders say it's time for just that.

The bill is currently in the Senate's education committee and is expected to be brought up and most likely voted on Tuesday morning. 

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved. 

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