Committee defeats charter schools bill by one vote

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – The House Education Committee, on a 16-15 vote, defeated a Senate-passed charter schools bill today.
Five Republicans joined 11 Democrats in opposing the proposal, which was a priority for the Republican leadership of the Senate and House as well as Gov. Phil Bryant. Since today is the deadline for committee action on the bill, it may be dead for the 2012 regular session.
However, supporters said legislation is alive in the Senate that could be amended to add the charter school language.
Immediately after the House committee’s vote, the governor’s office issued a statement saying Bryant would consider calling a special legislative session to deal only with the charter schools issue.
The bill defeated in the House committee would have allowed charter schools to be created in any school district in Mississippi if approved by a special state board. In districts ranked Star, High Performing or Successful, the approval of the local school board would also have been required.
Charter schools are publicly funded but operate without some of the regulations governing traditional public schools. Supporters say they can be laboratories of innovation that give parents additional choices for their children, while opponents argue that they drain resources and the best students from the public schools.