Jackson, MS–Yesterday, over 45 parents, teachers, and administrators from RePublic Charter Schools and Midtown Charter School rallied in front of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) office building showing their support for charter schools in Mississippi.

IMG_1061“We want choice! We want choice! We want choice!” parents and supporters yelled.

The charter school parents gathered in response to the recent lawsuit filed by the SPLC alleging charter school funding is unconstitutional. During the event which was organized by the charter schools, RePublic Board Member and Mississippi First staff member Angela Bass spoke reminding participants of the need for charter schools in Mississippi, “Last year, 120 parents chose our charter school for their kids. This year, that number has grown to over 360. We want to continue to be an option for parents who are looking for great schools, for parents who might not otherwise have any other option.”

Bass was joined at the podium by founding ReImagine teacher, Tresandria Hubbard. A Jackson native, Hubbard’s parents moved to Brandon from Carnation Street in Jackson when she was young in order to provide better educational options for her.

“We know that not every family has the ability to move their entire family to a different city to have a better choice for schools…Your zip code should not dictate the quality of your education,” Hubbard said. She continued, “I am a fan of the public school system. I am a fan of the charter school system. I am a fan and supporter of any system that demands that we will provide excellence for our children.”IMG_1143

Hubbard was followed by Dondria Palmer, a Jackson native and a RePublic Schools parent. She currently has two children enrolled in ReImagine Prep. Until she heard about ReImagine, she felt she had no public option where both of her children could be successful.

“My primary reason for choosing a charter school was I wanted to give my children a fighting chance to succeed in this society. I wanted them to have quality education and adequate preparation for college,” explained Palmer. She also emphasized how having her children in a charter school last year changed her life and the lives of her children. “I stand behind the charter school system 150%. This past school year, I was not having to work my day job during the day, and be a teacher at night.”

IMG_1240Lastly, Monica Cannon-Butler, from Midtown Education Council spoke on behalf of Midtown Public Charter School. She explained the struggle of parents who cannot get their child into their preferred school within Jackson Public Schools without passing an admissions test. Charters, which are open to all students, provide parents with public school choice without an admissions test. Cannon-Butler stated, “We want something more for students in Jackson. We want something beyond literacy, science, math, and the arts: we want students to learn to think critically,  to become creative problem solvers, and to learn how to facilitate their own learning. Simply put, we want all parents in Jackson to have a choice.”

The Mississippi Public Charter Schools Act became law in 2013. In the 2015, the first two charter schools opened in Jackson, Mississippi: ReImagine Prep and Midtown Public Charter School. A third charter school, Smilow Prep, another RePublic School, will open in Jackson this fall. For more information about charter schools in Mississippi, visit http://www.mississippifirst.org/education-policy/charter-schools/.

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The mission of Mississippi First is to champion transformative policy solutions ensuring educational excellence for every Mississippi child. Mississippi First is a leading voice for state-funded pre-K, high-quality public charter schools, and rigorous state learning standards. For more information about Mississippi First, visit www.mississippifirst.org or contact Executive Director Rachel Canter at 601.398.9008.

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