YOUR OPINION March 7, 2012

By NEMS Daily Journal

Charter schools present nothing for public to fear
Even though my children and grandchildren have all graduated from high school, and most from college, I want to voice my strong support for the pending legislation concerning Charter Schools.
Charter schools do not weaken public schools.They can only strengthen the educational environment with the competition. There is no need for me to list all the ramifications of a charter school system here; they have been published in this paper more than once. But to mention one phase, we have known for a long time that the administrators at the regular public schools are stymied in many of their efforts by excess bureaucracy.
Charter schools, while carefully organized, can lengthen, or shorten, their school days, or school year, to provide quality time in the classroom, they can establish their own educational pattern, tie teacher pay to performance and set high standards for their students.
Public charter schools are just that – public. The myth that they pick and choose their students is simply not true. Enrollment is open. Charter schools are working well across the nation as well as the South, especially Louisana and Arkansas. There is no reason to believe that they cannot be successful in Mississippi.
Tupelo and Lee County have nothing to fear from charter schools. Competition can only make the best better – and everybody gains.
Mary Jo Anderson

Charter schools offer answers for failures
A popular definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results.
Those with personal stakes in the current public school establishment every year offer only one soluntion, more money. And despite significant increases in education spending over the past 20 years, our public school system as a whole is still failing. Most parents would argue thatit has actually deteriorated at the same time per student spending has increased. Tupelo is a great example of this. So while the bureaucracy grows, administrators get rich, and legislators get re-elected, only our children’s education pays the price of this failing system.
Charter schools is one educational approach that puts the education of kids first. According to Newsweek’s 2010 ranking of the best public high schools in the U.S., 15 percent of the top schools were charter schools even though charter schools make up just 5 percent of public schools. And not a single public high school in Mississippi made the Newsweek list of top schools. And sadly, Mississippi was one of only three states to receive an “F” on K-12 achievement.
Charter schools allow parents to direct existing tax dollars allocated for their kids education to a charter school. There are numerous examples of charter schools near us (Memphis, Arkansas Delta, New Orleans) that have greatly succeeded in improving the eduction of students across all economic and racial lines. We as parents have the opportunity to begin correcting the problem of failing schools here in Mississippi by supporting charter schools. It is time we said the current system is not good enough for our children and ask for real educational reform. So as a father of three I support charter schools, which is one educational reform the children of Mississippi need.
Tony Palazzo

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