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Mississippi: State Government Is Acting Like the Feds, Trampling Local School Districts

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One of my friend’s in Mississippi sent this column by Bill Crawford in Meridian.

Crawford says the Governor and Legislature regularly complain about federal mandates, and he agrees with them.

But unlike them, he asks why the Governor and Legislator passed a law for charter schools that takes tax money away local districts without their consent. Isn’t this what they complain about when Washington does it?

He writes:

Let’s take a look at the lawsuit against charter schools now pending in the Mississippi Supreme Court.

The state established charter schools outside the normal public school domain. They do not answer to local elected school boards and have their own state agency, not the Mississippi Department of Education. In setting them up, the state mandated that local schools transfer funds to charter schools, so much per local student attending the charter school. This includes a share of local tax revenue as well as state revenue.

Now, remember that local elected school boards set property tax millage rates based on what the regular public schools need to operate. Maximum millage and annual increases are also limited by state mandates.

Parents of students in Jackson public schools have sued the state for taking their local tax money and giving it to charter schools in the city.

The state contends school money, state and local, should follow the students.

Local school advocates contend, since neither local voters nor local school boards had a say in the establishment or operation of these charter schools, just the state, tax money local school boards authorized should stick with the schools for which the money was intended.

Hmmm.

Sure looks like state government overreach to me. Local school boards are a lot closer to the majority of their people than state government.

I have often said that corporate reform is neither conservative nor liberal. It is anti-democratic.  It’s advocates believe in squashing local control and vesting power in a mayor or governor, who can be controlled by the money interests.

The privatizers are fundamentally anarchists. They don’t believe in self-government.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing the state of Mississippi because it’s charter law takes money away from the impoverished district of Jackson, without the consent of the people. That’s just plain wrong.

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