The Mississippi legislature is sending two education choice bills to Republican Gov. Phil Bryant this week. The Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act expands the use of vouchers and other scholarships for students with special needs, while another bill (SB 2161) expands the number of students eligible to attend a charter school by including students who attend schools with a C rating.
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“The expansion of Mississippi’s voucher program for special-needs children is good news for the citizens of the state. Opponents, who argue that it takes money from ‘public schools,’ seem to miss the fact that funding children is more efficient than funding their bureaucracies. The more money leaving the ‘bureaucracy-based’ school district to follow the child, the better. As the Mississippi legislature contemplates the next expansion of education choice, it should consider allowing all parents the ability to choose better education options for their children.”
“Mississippi parents and children are the real winners with the expansion of charter school access and vouchers for those with special needs. These students now have the chance to escape an inadequate school environment to an education opportunity that more readily fits their individual needs. Putting the education purse strings into the hands of parents, allowing them the freedom to find the individualized educational options to meet their children’s needs, is what is required.”
“This bill is a no-brainer. Mississippi lawmakers also shouldn’t wait to further expand the ability to choose education opportunities beyond special-needs children, like this bill addresses, and the wealthy families, who can afford to custom-fit their kids’ education in ways the rest of us cannot. School choice has already proven effective for all children in dozens of other states. Expanding it makes education more equitable, efficient, and personalized. More, please! Kids only get one shot at their education, and time is of the essence for them.”
“April has been a great month for school choice in Mississippi. Allowing children to cross district lines to attend a charter will make it easier for charter operators to open schools in rural areas like the Delta, where school districts are scarcely populated. This, along with passage of ESA expansion, has the chance to exponentially grow the number of school choice families in the Magnolia State. While allowing students in A- and B-rated schools to also cross district lines and attend charter schools would have been preferable, as would have universal ESA expansion, I applaud the legislature for making sure more Mississippi children have the opportunity to attend a quality school.”
“Mississippi’s expansion of its charter school programs and its introduction of vouchers, while very good first steps, still need to be augmented by a third element of parental choice: informational choice. It is difficult for parents to make good choices when they have poor-quality information about school performance and other characteristics. Put differently, it would be good if parents knew what they were doing before they start making the choices now being provided.”
“Congratulations to the legislature and families of Mississippi who will now be given greater access to education options. Expanding education choice is another step in the right direction toward improving education within the state. Education is the key to the future of Mississippi; the more educational opportunities available, the more students will have a chance to succeed.”
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