POINT/COUNTERPOINT: It’s choice that matters, or is it?

By Dr. Ed Hollilday/The Rev. James Hull

Point – Ed Holliday
Ready or not change is coming to education in Mississippi. Educational bills are being discussed in this legislative session, but no matter what the lawmakers decide, technology is stripping away the past ways that have contributed to Mississippi retaining its place at the bottom of the nation financially and educationally.
What Mississippi taxpayers need now is a vision of where we want to go and how to get there. I believe in stepping forward to create an environment in Mississippi that draws all our citizens in unity to support lifelong education everywhere possible. Education through public, private, combinations of both, or ways not even dreamed yet should be celebrated and supported.
I support new programs that test the boundaries of the status quo. Yes, let’s try the tax credit scholarships proposed by Gov. Bryant to help get some of our children out of failing schools and into great schools be they public or private. Yes, let’s get a bold charter schools law passed. And, yes, let’s be prudent with the taxpayer money that is poured into education.
Just last week state auditor, Stacy Pickering, told us that his office would not certify the 2012 data used for the Mississippi Adequate Education Program or MAEP. Why? Because he said the numbers used by schools are un-auditable due to no standard measurements.
What do we need now in Mississippi education? We need more choices – the more the better! Better choices are knocking on our schoolhouse doors. Who will stand in the way?
Dr. Ed Holliday is a Tupelo dentist who has written two successful books. Contact him at ed@teaparty.ms.

Counterpoint – James Hull
Anybody who says they don’t want Mississippi to get off the bottom rung of the education ladder is evil or stupid. I don’t know many Mississippians who are either when it comes to wanting the best for our state’s public school system There are, however, many whom I know who hold the position that what is being called education reform in this state is actually regression and, in many ways, repression.
I applaud Auditor Pickering for his findings. What I find questionable and objectionable is the auditor’s timing. This is his sixth year in office, and he’s just now unable to make sense of the numbers? The political timing of his findings is much too suspect. It was a rather convenient time to sully the reputation of the public school system, don’t you think?
Actions like Auditor Pickering’s make me suspicious of the sincerity of those pushing for charter schools. And if the public school system is broken beyond repair, what is to become of those students who are not fortunate enough to make it into a charter school?
What about those communities who are not well-versed enough to apply for a charter?
If a whole community is failing educationally, how will the charter school identify and select a limited number of students out of an entirely failing community?
As lawmakers often say, “the devil is in the details.” And until the first charter schools are actually established, we won’t know what the details are.
Until then, we won’t know what the real choices are, or who will get to make them.
Rev. James Hull is an award-wining journalist and a political consultant. You may contact him at hullmultimediams@aol.com.