Huffington Post contributor Matthew Lynch, Ed.D, recently welcomed the Charter School Bill passed by the Mississippi Senate as a aid to public schools citing a report which gave Mississippi “F when it comes to building and support capacity.” Of course this remedy, which allows privitization of part of the education system switchs attention away from the program already in place (The Mississippi Adequate Education Program has been underfunded a total of about $980 million since the 2007-08 school year.) The working logic is don’t fund the existing program, complain about failure and produce an entirely new plan that just happens to involve, wait for it, wait for it, privitization, that RepubliCon panecea.
Mr. Lynch lauds the supposed competition the Charter Schools are to bring to the Public Schools. Here again the disinginuity is in the false frame which services the hidden agenda of the RepubliCon party, refuge of the Dixicrats. The deck is stacked in such a way that public education will be further denegrated to make the case for increased privitization. Charter Schools according to the celebrated bill can max-out with 20% fewer children with “economic or academic disadvantages and special ed needs” than public schools have. In essence they are being allowed to cherry-pick who they will serve. This is just the latest attack of the forces which opposed Governor William Winter and fled from the public schools after Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education.
So when Mr. Lynch complains about the teacher to pupil ratio and lack of student achievement someone should tell him that there are methods not involving Charter Schools that Mississippi could have employed if the will for improving public schools was pervasive.
“•Most top-performing countries have a school year that exceeds 200 days, and the school day in many countries begins at 7:30 a.m. and ends at 5:00 p.m.
•In contrast, Mississippi has a 180-day school year – students in top-performing countries get at least an extra month of schooling per year in which to master competencies.”
“Mississippi is the only state in the South that does not provide state-funded preschool, which many say could help reduce the achievement gap.”
“•The top-performing countries teach fewer concepts but teach them much more deeply
•Mississippi is moving to the Common Core State Standards which is based on international benchmarks”
“•In top-performing countries, getting into a teacher education program is like getting into medical school – these countries accept only 10% or less of applicants into teacher education programs – their most brilliant citizens are teaching their children
•Teacher education programs in top-performing countries are extremely rigorous; teacher candidates major in the subjects they will teach and have additional coursework in pedagogy (learning how to teach)
•Teachers are valued and compensated as high-priority professionals – their salaries are on par with physicians, engineers, and attorneys
•In contrast, Mississippi has been willing to lower standards for teacher certification in order to avoid paying teachers a competitive salary; consequently, we are failing to attract enough of our best and brightest into the field of education, and schools of education often have the lowest average ACT scores on a university campus.”
Funneling money to private entities may be an answer but public education has been, can be, and should be the method employed to educate Mississippi children.