Photo courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action
Mississippi students were the winners when a Mississippi district court judge recently upheld the state’s charter school law after nearly two years of litigation. This ruling comes as advocates across the nation are working to make funding more equitable for charter schools.
Mississippi’s law as enacted allows for state and local funds to follow the child to the charter school they choose to attend. In 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit, claiming that allowing charter schools to receive funds from local revenues was in violation of two provisions in the Mississippi Constitution. But a district court affirmed the constitutionality of the provision, allowing charter schools to continue receiving a critical source of funding.
PIE Network member Mississippi First has advocated for charter schools in Mississippi since the law passed in 2013. “We believe all public school students have a right to state and local public education dollars,” said Rachel Canter, executive director of Mississippi First. “Charter school students are public school students because charter schools are public schools. We hope that in light of today’s ruling, they will put this matter to rest and instead join with us to advocate for and improve all public schools in Mississippi.”
PIE Network partner the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools also applauded the ruling in Mississippi, saying, “Having defeated these attacks on their funding, public charter schools across Mississippi can—and will—grow to serve more and more students who are demanding access to high-quality public education opportunities.”
Local funding makes up roughly 35 percent of charter funding in Mississippi. Currently there are approximately 1,000 students attending three charter middle schools, with more charters set to open in the fall of 2018. Mississippi also recently received a $15 million grant from the U.S. Department of Education to aid in high-quality charter expansion.
Interested in connecting with advocates from Mississippi or other advocates working on charter funding equity? Reach out.