Charter school bill passes in the House - - The News for South Mississippi

Charter school bill passes in the House

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

One lawmaker described it as thorough and exhaustive nearly twelve hours of dispute over a charter school bill. It finally passed the house after midnight by a vote of 64 to 55.

"We examined issues from transportation to intent," said Republican House of Representatives Member Brad Mayo (District 12).

For Representative Mayo, charter schools have the power to transform the lives of children trapped in poor performing schools.

"This gives them the chance to reform a school in their district or to open a new school in their district," explained Representative Mayo.

Among many provisions, House Bill 369 allows charter schools in districts not excelling academically.  

Democratic Representative Alyce Clarke (District 69) isn't a fan for charter schools.  Representative Clarke said she supports studies showing charter schools don't always work. She also believes if the state had fully funded education in the past, charter schools wouldn't be necessary.

"We have good public schools and I'd like to see us improve our public schools, make our public schools better," Representative Clarke told WLBT News.

During the on-going House debate, every amendment, but one was defeated. The undefeated amendment stops for profit groups from establishing a charter school.

Last week, the state Senate passed its version of charter school legislation. Senate Education Committee Chairman, Senator Gray Tollison said the passage is a move in the right direction.

"Nearly a third of third graders can't read at grade level, we've got to change that and this is one tool in the toolbox," said Senator Tollison.

Before this charter school legislation makes it to a conference committee it will have to go through the Senate for approval. The Senate could have the bill as early as next week.

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