OUR OPINION: Public charter school authorizing board set

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeve’s nomination Friday of the final three members for Mississippi’s new Charter School Authorizing Board smooths the way for Gov. Phil Bryant to convene the board to begin its important work sometime this month.

Bryant earlier nominated his three choices, and the nomination of acting state Superintendent of Education Lynn House completes the process.

All nominees must be confirmed during the 2014 session:

• Krystal Cormack (Bryant) – educator and Teach For America Delta Corps Alum.

• Johnny Franklin (Bryant) – former education advisor for Gov. Haley Barbour.

• Chris Wilson (Bryant) – Realtor, former president of the Mississippi Association of Realtors.

• Dr. Lynn House (House/State Board) – acting state Superintendent of Education.

• Tommie Cardin (Reeves) – attorney, former president of the Clinton School Board.

• Bonita Coleman-Potter (Reeves) – superintendent of the Ocean Springs School District.

• Dr. Karen Elam (Reeves) – businesswoman, former professor of nutrition and food science.

It is a reasonable certainty that while all the nominees hold a favorable view of the limited and focused charter schools approved by the Legislature this year, they may differ on specifics, a good trait in an important statewide board.

Success in the process of approving and recommending charter schools depends on extensive discussions based on full information, and bringing to bear the experience and views of all the board nominees, especially their goals for public charter school success in our state.

The Daily Journal has maintained a supportive position of the kind of limited and focused public charter schools made possible in Mississippi by vigorous debate that produced a compromise from virtually every direction.

Possibilities that public charter schools can be adapted to raise the performance of under-performing students in schools with extended patterns of inadequate achievement could substantially change how the most challenged students respond.

The new board can approve schools in low-performing D and F districts; in A, B and C districts, the local boards have veto authority; up to 15 charter schools per year can be located in the state, as the Daily Journal has reported many times.

The new board and the process should be full opportunity to work as planning moves ahead for the first public charter schools in 2015.

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