Two large issues for charter schools

By JACK RYAN ENTERPRISE JOURNAL,

The Mississippi Supreme Court this week cleared the way for charter schools to continue operating in the state, ruling that using local property taxes to pay for the schools is constitutional.

Charter school critics contended these payments violated the state Constitution by forcing public school districts to share tax revenue with schools that it did not control.

A majority of the court disagreed. But funding is not the biggest problem facing charter schools in Mississippi.

The larger issues are figuring out how to get more charters opened in the rural areas that could benefit from them, and then getting the test scores of charter students measurably higher than children in public schools.

Right now Mississippi has six charter schools, five in Jackson and one in Clarksdale. The state board that supervises the schools has rejected a number of other applicants, including several from small towns. The board is right to be selective, putting the burden where it belongs — on those who want to open schools.

As for test scores, most charter schools are average or below average. Their goal of helping children who most need it has not been met.

Jack Ryan, Enterprise-Journal

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