First there was the article. Then came the editorial endorsement.
The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal has come out swinging in favor of The Parents Campaign in the lead up to the 2013 legislative session, choosing to protect school bosses and their money flow over parental choice and children’s access to better educational opportunities.
The Daily Journal’s story on their editorial board meeting with Loome pointed to the group’s request of adding $150 million to school funding in the FY 2014 budget, saying the funds would “move halfway toward completely funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program.” As Loome says, MAEP was underfunded by some $300 million during the 2012 session.
Loome also reiterated The Parents Campaign’s objection to wholesale charter school access around the state, saying the opportunity should be limited to underperforming districts.
The Editorial Board at the Daily Journal offered their support for Loome’s position, pointing the finger at Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn, saying, “Reeves and House Speaker Phil Gunn, whose influence with the chambers they lead is arguably greater than the governor, could set Mississippi on a better path by ensuring significant progress to full funding, then dealing with charter schools for chronically failing districts.”
Such a statement appears innocuous but in actuality it is a shot across the bow aimed squarely at the Republican leadership in the Legislature.
There is no question that both chambers will be focused largely on education reform and charter schools. Lt. Governor Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn made that clear on Founders Square this summer.
In an effort to control the narrative, The Parents Campaign led by its lead lobbyist and director Nancy Loome is rallying the troops to again push for fully funding MAEP and restricting charter schools to underperforming districts.
Money is a factor in providing education. There’s no argument here. But as we have seen in Mississippi, money rarely translates into better test scores and increased graduation rates. So to continue to focus on money is purely a way to protect the school chiefs who administer those funds. It is not the silver bullet.
Instead, Mississippi needs to involve parents and provide educational choices that directly relate to children where they are, in both underperforming and high performing districts. Restricting higher educational success is just as bad as not pushing for better results in failing districts. Both hold student achievement back.
No, charter schools aren’t a silver bullet either but such discussions are the shift the state needs to move towards, from being solely money focused to being children and parent focused.
The more the educational conversation centers around parents and children and less on the school bosses and their money flow the potential for better results increases. After all, while money hasn’t produced the results Mississippi needs in its education system, parental involvement has a direct correlation to student success.
As I have stated before, the flaw in The Parents Campaign’s position on charter schools is that they only want children in underperforming schools to be given the option to seek greater success in their education. They want to restrict those that are already high achievers from further educational excellence. They don’t want parents to have a choice despite their name.
The Daily Journal and The Parents Campaign continue to appeal to the lowest common denominator that can be quantified – funding – while dismissing parental choice.
Mississippi leaders must change the narrative now and appeal to the one sure way to improve education – parental involvement.