A bill that would ease allowances for charter schools in Mississippi seems destined to die in a House committee, some members say.
Senate Bill 2401 is expected to go before the House Education Committee again on Monday. For it to survive and possibly cross Gov. Phil Bryant’s desk to be signed into law, the bill must pass out of committee by Tuesday.
But about five Republican representatives are going to vote against it, and “with them voting against it, no matter what the bill is, it’s not going to pass,” said Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus.
Committee members say the members of the DeSoto County delegation are among the Republicans who oppose the bill.
Rep. Forrest Hamilton, R-Olive Branch, acknowledged the opposition. He said his opposition reflects the wishes of his constituents. In DeSoto County, which includes the state’s largest school district, there is strong support for public education, he said.
“We built 30-something schools here in the county,” Hamilton said, noting there was broad support for the bond issue to build those schools.
“Why would we want to jeopardize our investment in our public school system for something else coming when everybody’s happy with what we’ve got?”
Areas with struggling schools likely have low or no parent involvement, he said. Some schools aren’t safe, which inhibits learning, Hamilton said.
“How does government solve this? I am not quite sure,” Hamilton said. But if a man can be sent to the moon, “we can fix the public school system,” he said.
Charter schools will have the same challenges as traditional public schools, he said.
Chism said if he were in an area with poorly performing schools, his children wouldn’t go there. He would move or send them to private schools.
“But a lot of people who are in the areas where a lot of those schools are, say the Delta, they can’t move,” Chism said. “So they’re trapped in a failing school system.”
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