I really do not understand why there is so much discussion and back room chatter around town about Empower MS and charter schools. There seems to be a tremendous amount of misinformation being disseminated, so I would like to clear up some items relating to these topics.
1. Empower MS and Grant Callen are not out to infiltrate DeSoto County and build charter schools all over the county. They do support charter schools, but they also support much more than that one issue.
2. Mississippi already passed charter school legislation. Currently, there is a limit of 15 non-profit charter schools that are allowed in our state/year and only by approval of the Charter School Board. That number is so incredibly minimal, it is highly unlikely that DeSoto will ever get a charter school or need one.
3. There have been so many failing schools and districts in Mississippi at times, our state has not had the resources to take them all over as the law dictates. Charter schools are a great alternative for those areas and those schools.
4. DeSoto County does not suffer from many of the issues other districts in the state do. Charter schools and legislation supporting them are not and have never been a personal attack on DeSoto but rather an alternative for those students and schools, desperately needing choices.
5. As far as charter school popularity amongst legislators and certain lobbyists is concerned, most of the controversy pertains to funding and NOT whether or not charter schools should or should not be allowed in our state.
Special needs children, dyslexic students, kids in need of speech language therapy, ELL students and students in high need areas are major factors motivating the school choice movement. ALL children deserve to have educational opportunities, and unfortunately, NO one system will ever be able to meet the needs of all students. We can keep trying to make that possible, but in the meantime, children can’t afford to wait for that day to come. Are charter schools the solution? NO! They are simply one alternative, but they are NOT the motivating factor behind our newly elected candidates or the only issue that is important to Empower.
Now, there have been several BIG, legislative issues to fail the last few years because of lack of support from our DeSoto House delegation: the special needs bill and the appointment of school superintendents. These two issues caused the downfall of our House delegation…………NOT charter schools. Common Core is also a major issue that led to the demise of our DeSoto House delegation……….NOT charter schools. Phone calls never returned, emails never answered and constituents left ignored IS what led to the outcome of the DeSoto House delegation…………NOT charter schools. So why are we talking about charter schools? Why is the media portraying the recent election as a result of charter schools? BECAUSE THEY DO NOT LISTEN TO THE PEOPLE!!!! If they had listened at any point along the way, they would know that charter schools are not the issue!
As for the land bashing of a PAC supporting a candidate, take a look at the list below. This is not a complete list, but it will make my point for me. ALL of our DeSoto House Reps have been supported by PACs and out of state PACs. Incumbents possess an arsenal of contributors that they have built up over their years in office. Why do you think it is so hard to find people to challenge the incumbents?!!! RARELY, will you ever find a PAC to support an incumbent’s challenger. We finally have a PAC, willing to help, and everyone acts as if the sky is falling. The PAC, Empower, supports the REPUBLICAN issues that have been supported and promoted by our Governor, Lt. Governor and Republicans throughout the state. The challengers supported by Empower are Republicans, so what is the issue?
Please review the following list. This is a partial list of PACs (political action committees) that have contributed to the campaigns of our former House Reps in DeSoto County:
Austin Barbour – Lobbyist
Century Link PAC – Washington DC
Mississippi Dental PAC
Mississippi Association of Homecare PAC
Mississippi Association of Educators PAC
Mississippi Medical PAC
Atmos Entergy PAC – Dallas, Texas
Centene Management PAC – St. Louis, Missouri
Home Builders Association PAC – Mississippi
Advance America PAC – Spartanburg, South Carolina
Koch Co. PAC – Wichita, Kansas
Electric Power Association PAC – Mississippi
State Farm PAC – Mississippi
AT&T PAC – Mississippi
Furniture Specialists PAC – Mississippi
GCA Educational Services PAC – Knoxville, TN
Fisher & Arnold Architects PAC – Memphis, TN
Here is a link to Empower MS and what they are about: http://empowerms.org/about/. I encourage you to read through their mission statement, review the board members, check out their political affiliations and past accomplishments, then make an informed opinion about this situation. If you have any questions or need more information about any of the people, groups, legislation or issues mentioned, I am happy to provide you with various resources. Hopefully, we can quit talking about the non-issue of charter schools and focus on the real issues at hand and the candidates in the runoff elections.