BY: B. Keith Plunkett

This morning the Mississippi GOP sent out a press release calling on House Ed Committee Members to support Charter School Legislation:

Mississippi Republican Party Statement On Pending Charter School Legislation

JACKSON- Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef made the following statement concerning pending charter school legislation:

“The Mississippi Republican Party joins Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and Speaker Philip Gunn in strongly supporting the enactment of additional charter school legislation in Mississippi. For far too long, parents have been forced to enroll their children in failing public schools simply because of their zip code. Charter schools will give parents, particularly in failing school districts, another option in the public school education of their children. It is time that we stop accepting failing schools in Mississippi and join the 39 other states that have viable charter school legislation already in place.”

As the legislature considers charter schools legislation, here are key facts on charter schools in other states:

• More than 5,000 charter schools serve more than 1.5 million children across the country as of 2009.

• For the 2009-2010 school year, 419 new charter schools opened in 39 states.

• Today, 39 states and the District of Columbia have charter school laws in place.

• Charter schools across the U.S. are funded at 61 percent of their district counterparts.

• On average, charter schools are funded at $6,585 per pupil compared to $10,771 per pupil at conventional district public schools.

• There is a direct correlation between strong laws and successful charter schools. Of those states with strong laws, 65 percent show positive achievement gains; of the weak states, only two demonstrate the same level of progress.

• A 2004 report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education found that charter schools are smaller than conventional public schools and serve a disproportionate and increasing number of poor and minority students.

• A 2003 national report by the Brookings Institution shows that test scores at charter schools are “rising sharply” and out-gaining conventional schools.

• A December 2004 Harvard University study finds that charter school students are more likely to be proficient in reading and math than students in neighboring conventional schools.

• The greatest achievement gains can be seen among African American, Hispanic, or low-income students.

• Charter schools that have been open for significant periods of time boast even higher achievement rates; Harvard found that charter schools that have been operating for more than 5 years outpace conventional schools by as much as 15 percent.

But, is it too little, too late? Up until now there has been no communication from Republican leaders on the impending doom of the bill. Now the public school lobby has a very firm foot in the backs of committee members.

It takes time and consistent messaging to inform the public and build awareness. Not last minute ditch efforts. And it’s not like there hasn’t been a ton of information available to share to show the good, bad and the ugly of Mississippi’s government schooling.

I understand that the MS GOP has its hands full with upcoming conventions. But, this isn’t rocket science. It just takes a committment to communicating ideas, and telling stories of success.

I wrote the following back on February 2:

Any campaign or communication strategy must go where the people are. But, a majority still don’t really understand social media implementation and how communications strategy must take it into account. The public consumption of information is no longer as simple as a “bumper sticker” line. Those themes are still important, but the public is increasingly expecting more content to back up the slogans.

That’s what social media is at it’s core: a digital public forum.

The beauty of these new rules of engagement is that the public is really opening up to understand the nuance of policy, and once they understand it they will help influence others. The challenge for public officials is that the conversations never end, they must always be prepared to explain.

Had Republicans been truly willing to embrace the new reality of communication and networking then this, and other important legislation, could have been much further along.

As Madison County Republican Party Executive Director Mary McLaurin put it:

Republicans must get together on this issue if we really want to affect change in our public school systems. I canvassed all weekend in Desoto County talking to the voters and they either know nothing about this or agree that their Representatives should vote to put Charter School Legislation though the Education Committee. I worked very hard canvassing for candidates, donated to candidates to help “flip the house” last year and it is very disheartening that we are at a sticking point now.

Committee Hearing begins in minutes. I guess all we can do now is hope for the best.

6 thoughts on “Is the MS GOP’s press release too little, too late?

  1. Absolutely, a little too late, and 5 R’s vote against allowing it out of committee. I can’t wait to see how they vote when it comes to floor. I wonder how many will try to save their backsides? But they can’t erase the stain of today’s vote…never.

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