State Sen. Angela Burks Hill (R-Picayune), fresh off a Mississippi state legislative tour of a successful charter school system in Arkansas, says the Arkansas experiment is “proving that students from impoverished areas can perform as well as anyone else if placed in the proper learning environment.”

Students from the Kipp Delta Charter Schools in West Helena, Ark., have an average ACT score of 22, as compared to surrounding districts’ 16, and says Hill, “The students have been accepted to Duke University, United States Military academies, as well as numerous other two-year community colleges and four-year universities. . .”

“That’s despite the fact the children are mostly minority and from a poor area,” adds Hill.

“The school started up in 2002 with one fifth-grade class and now has over 1,000 students. It has so many applications that it uses a lottery system to pick applicants,” she said.

When the State Legislature convenes on Jan. 8, Hill, who will be entering her second year representing Senate District 40, which includes Picayune and Pearl River County, told the Item in an interview that “trying to pass a charter school bill” will probably be the No. 1 priority on the legislature’s agenda. She favors it, and many other supporters of the movement mounted a campaign push between sessions in favor of the bill, which failed to pass last year when bottled up in the House Education Committee.

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