Students and parents pack the State Capitol to lobby for expande - - Jackson, MS

Students and parents pack the State Capitol to lobby for expanded school choice

Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
Source: WLBT Source: WLBT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Some Mississippians are lobbying for more choices when it comes to educating their kids, as part of National School Choice Week.

In recent years, Mississippi has authorized charter schools and there is now a program that makes scholarships or vouchers, as some call them, available to students with various special needs.

"So all our policy makers up there, please listen to our cries as parents," said parent Leah Ferretti during Tuesday's press conference.

While there are more options than before, there is a push to expand school choice in the state.

"It's not about which decision we make," Ferretti noted. "Let us make the decision that is right for our family. Because it might be a public choice. It might be a private choice. But don't limit us."

There's more than just the choice tied to an expansion of programs like the vouchers. There's public money at stake.

Many Democrats worry that the money will go where there's no accountability and redirect money out of the already underfunded schools.

"This is just another effort to slash funding from our existing public schools and to allow individuals to take those tax dollars over to private academies," said Senate Democratic Caucus Chairman Senator Derrick Simmons. "The system will not work if we continue down this path."

Governor Bryant, once again, requested to let the public money follow them to the school of their choice.

"We have these walls around schools," said Bryant. "Not to keep people out but to keep students in. So, we'll say you can't go to another school. You can't leave here. It's a Berlin Wall, I call it. That's what the Berlin Wall did, it kept people in. It took their freedom."

These parents say the scenario could be that a child is in a failing district or maybe the school isn't meeting the unique needs of the child. Either way, they want options.

There are pending pieces of legislation that would expand the scholarship or voucher program to students without disabilities.

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