Local Government

Published on February 11th, 2016 | by Jay Hughes


The Midnight Special: School Choice & Vouchers

There is a freight train barreling through the marble corridors of the Capitol at 90 mph, and rounding the last bend, tilted to one side.  It is fueled by powerful corporate lobbyist, and carrying a full load of school vouchers and school choices.  It is zooming through the historic chambers, scooping up votes from your legislators in private meetings and elaborate dinners.

Now imagine that this nightmarish freight train is headed straight for a school near you – and then consider it’s true impact on “We the people.”

Ask yourself the few questions below in order to prepare for the impact on the public, private and religious schools near your home: 

If your school district has good or great schools, what are its plans to handle such a large influx of neighboring students from a struggling district into your children’s classrooms?

What happens when a struggling district decides it is cheaper and better to simply bus their children and vouchers over to your good local schools?

What will happen to the now over-populated schools’ funding and classroom sizes?

What are the plans on how to deal with those children left behind in a failing school – there will be some?

If you’re a religious school and accept state vouchers, do you understand you will be required to accept students of all religions, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc.?

If you’re a private academy, do you understand you will be required to accept students of all races, and all emotional, physical or educational problems in order to get those taxpayer dollars – no cherry picking this time?

Are you fine with your state tax dollars going to fund schools with religions or ideology to which you object?

Will the religious schools and private academies getting your tax dollars have to adhere to the same accountability standards as our public schools?

If a private or religious school takes taxpayer funds, shouldn’t the private school be required to have an educationally sound curriculum? Qualified teachers? State-recommended textbooks? A state-approved testing program?  These are your tax dollars.

Of 55,000 special needs Mississippi school children, the legislature only authorized 400 school vouchers.  Of these, only 107 students were lucky enough to be accepted by another school – what does that say about the ability or willingness of private schools to serve our most vulnerable children, even with your tax dollars?

Can your private and religious schools and academies reject children with physical and emotional handicaps?  Think again?

Do we really think competitiveness in public schools is the answer?   How would competition work for your local police & fire departments?  Anyone want to think about the for-profit private prison services unique to Mississippi that are guaranteed 85% “occupancy rates” of inmates by state contract? 

When did the education of our children become a partisan issue?  Is it now just a memory that all men are created equal?

If you have an opinion or question about school choice or vouchers, please share it directly with your elected leadership about the future of Mississippi K-12 education, public, religious and academies.

The freight train can only be slowed or stopped by you.  It is time to think, speak now, or forever hold your peace.

Jay Hughes
District 12 Representative
It ALL starts with education!

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About the Author

Jay Hughes was born August 28, 1963 in Houston, Texas, is a U.S. Army Veteran, and is married to the former Cristin Moroney. Jay is former Ward 1 Alderman of Oxford, Mississippi and currently is District 12 Representative in the Mississippi House of Representatives.

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