JACKSON, Miss. —
By The (Jackson) Clarion-Ledger:
One of Gov. Phil Bryant’s most controversial education proposals is for open enrollment in public schools. His plan would allow inter- and intra-district transfers between public schools.
The governor says we have built up invisible walls that keep students locked in failing schools. He likens these invisible walls to the Berlin Wall and advocates tearing them down to allow parents the freedom of choosing where they send their children to school.
But Bryant’s proposal does not single out failing districts, and when questioned about such limits to open enrollment he responded that his desire is to see it applied to all students in all districts. His reasoning for the proposal — those invisible walls trapping students in failing schools — therefore doesn’t match the proposal itself.
Open enrollment is not new; several other states have enacted it to varying degrees of success and in varying manners. Some states have forced open enrollment, meaning every district must accept students from other districts. Other states follow the proposal Bryant put recently, which is that schools must agree to accept students before students can transfer to them. In both cases, there are limits to help protect against overcrowding and so as not to place a financial or logistical hardship on the recipient school.
It is not that open enrollment is necessarily a bad idea in theory or in practice, but it is certainly a bad idea for Mississippi right now.
Open enrollment will do nothing to help improve public education. The argument that it will add competition is a weak argument. It will create competition only among schools who have neighboring schools that choose to participate in the program. And even then it will only create competition for a very few students. At the end of the day, it looks like a program that will affect only a very small number of students.
But the downside of this program in Mississippi is great. Unlike most of the states with open enrollment programs, Mississippi still has districts governed by desegregation decrees. And when the Mississippi Department of Education tries to consolidate districts — even without closing schools or changing the schools that certain students attend — they must get approval from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Furthermore, given Mississippi’s great dependence on federal funding, MDE has a mountain of criteria that must be met to ensure those funds continue to come into the state. Too, Mississippi is a state where equitable funding has not always been the rule. If the state is found to violate equitable funding rules, then we could face federal intervention. ...
Open enrollment may one day be a wise choice in Mississippi, but that day is not now.
JACKSON, Miss. —
By The (Jackson) Clarion-Ledger:
Analysis: Miss. supes discussing county budgets
Mississippi supervisors gather on the Gulf Coast this week to talk about roads and bridges, economic development, water resources and other issues.
DOJ’s seizure of phone records is appalling
By The Vicksburg Post:
In today’s Department of Justice, the ends seem to justify the means.
And it is sickening.
Bryant tantrum on education major standards was misguided
By the (McComb) Enterprise-Journal:
That was quite a tantrum Gov. Phil Bryant pitched at the College Board recently, criticizing its members for voicing concerns about his effort to increase standards for education majors.
Legislature to City Hall not sure move
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Nation’s economy improving, but state’s still lagging
By The (Jackson) Clarion-Ledger
It’s been a long time coming, but finally there are bright economic signs nationally that seem here to stay a while.
Armed teachers dangerous idea for school safety
By (Columbus) The Commercial Dispatch:
The Mississippi House of Representatives sent back to the Senate a bill that would arm teachers.
Before sending it over, the House, by a 70-46 vote, amended the Senate’s bill in two major ways. Actually, the House did more than amend it. They neutered it.
Not every bill grabs headlines
The first two bills that Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed during the 2013 legislative session dealt with money.
House Bill 19 gave more cash to the agency that coordinates a program to put all emergency offices under the same digital communications system. House Bill 20 moved money from the car tag reduction fund to the Budget Contingency Fund. Lawmakers use the contingency fund to cobble together cash for the overall state budget.
Transparency key to ‘best watchdogs’ oversight
By The (Tupelo) Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal:
Rep. Jerry Turner’s effort to require open meetings of water associations and notice of meetings in which members of boards of directors will be elected remains alive in the Legislature. It should be enacted in the interests of transparency in the running of the nonprofit associations providing water for a significant percentage of Mississippi’s population.
Miss. makes news, good news, this time
By The (Columbus) Commercial Dispatch:
Generally, when Mississippi makes national news — especially of late — it is not the sort of notoriety we welcome. ...
So March 3, when Mississippi again made national news, we braced ourselves for the embarrassment that was sure to follow.
Only this time, it wasn’t anything to be embarrassed about.
Ag’s legal expenses top $2.4M for year
An ongoing lawsuit challenging Mississippi’s foster care system has cost the state at least $4.4 million in legal expenses and fees since 2008.
Expenses continue to rise as the plaintiffs and the state work toward a telephone status conference scheduled for April 25 with U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee. The price tag this year is $1.35 million.
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