We caught up with Michquel McCullough before he met with a group of people who want to hear what he has to say about staring a charter school in Canton. McCullough grew up in the Canton Public School District. His children attended Canton Public Schools until he moved to Ridgeland.
"I didn't like the teaching style, teaching methods. I noticed there was too much testing going more than anything else," said McCullough. "Tried to go to the school board meetings, tried to voice my concerns, I didn't deem them open to that process with me."
A charter school is a public school, and publicly funded, but is free from some of the strict guidelines of the local district. The Canton School District is low-performing, and scored an "F" in the most recent round of MCT tests, so McCullough won't have to get Canton School Board approval to submit a charter school application. But he does have to get lots of other people on board.
McCullough is one of a handful of people statewide beginning the process. The State of Mississippi first has to appoint a charter school authorizing board. Kimberly Smith-Russ, Mississippi State Director of the Black Alliance for Educational Options, explains what happens next.
"The RFP (request for proposal) would have to come out, and then people can actually start applying, getting their information ready to start applying to the authorizing board," she says.
Smith-Russ has this advice for Mississippians who are interested in charter schools.
"To be patient with the process. To learn what charter schools are," she says.
Mississippi's first charter school is at least a year away, if not more. McCullough wants to take each step and do it right.
"The parents want an option, I want an option," said McCullough. If they embrace it along with me, I will do all I can to make this happen. But again it's about the political support, the community wanting this."
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