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Charter schools at a glance

Mississippi legislators continue to hash out the details of an expanded charter school bill for the state, the second consecutive legislative session in which charter school legislation has figured prominently.

Republicans, now in control of both legislative chamber, have made charter school legislation a major priority, though GOP leaders have differed on the details of such legislation.

Charter schools are publicly funded schools but run by a private entity, sometimes a not-for profit organization but sometimes a for-profit entity.

The flexibility from traditional regulations governing public schools is often touted as a positive charter schools bring to the table, enabling innovation.

This freedom includes greater leeway to:

• Manage the school’s budget

• Select curriculum

• Making staffing decisions. Charter schools often don’t have the same regulations to hire state licensed teachers that public schools do.

• Extend instructional time and otherwise alter the school day schedule.

Charter schools are touted as a potential reform measure for Mississippi’s school system that lags behind much of the nation in performance standards.

Proponents point to charter schools in areas such as the Arkansas Delta and New Orleans as success stories.

Opponents point out the mixed performance records of charter school nationwide. However, advocacy organizations such as Mississippi First point out that more stringent charter school bills often produce better results than more permissive ones.