Since 2009, the Mississippi Coalition for Public Charter Schools – which includes the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools (NAPCS), the Black Alliance for Educational Options, Mississippi First, the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, Better Education for Mississippi, and the Mississippi Association of Realtors – has been working tirelessly to bring model charter school legislation to a state where too many families desperately need better public school options. According to ACT, for example, only 12% of Mississippi students graduate high school college-ready, and that number is even worse for African-American students at 2%.
At long last, the 2013 legislative session brought hope to the state’s students, as the state enacted the Mississippi Charter Schools Act of 2013. For the first time in the state’s history, the legislation will allow start-up charter schools (the state previously only allowed low-performing traditional public schools to convert to public charter schools, with a process so onerous that no schools were ever converted). The legislation also provides public charter schools with the flexibility to innovate, while ensuring that they will be held to a high standard of accountability for results. The legislation also requires local, state, and federal funding to follow a student that chooses to attend a public charter school.
With solid enabling legislation in place, the work shifts to ensuring that high-quality public charter schools are created to serve the state’s students, particularly those most in need of better options. The Mississippi Charter Schools Association is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the growth and development of high-quality charter schools in Mississippi. The Association will accomplish its mission through effective outreach, new school development, and committed legislative advocacy. It will build on the solid foundation laid by the Mississippi Coalition for Public Charter Schools and play a critical role in the early success and development of Mississippi’s first public charter schools.
Charter schools are public schools that are free to be more innovative and are held accountable for improved student achievement. They have some unique traits, however, that increase the chances of a successful education for a child: