Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Charter school parents fight lawsuit

Attorney Mike Hurst & Charter School Parents

The Mississippi  Justice Institute issued the following press release:

Charter School Parents and Kids Seek to Join Lawsuit
Mississippi Justice Institute represents parents and kids in fight to preserve their free public charter schools; files motion to intervene as defendants in lawsuit filed by Southern Poverty Law Center

(JACKSON, MISS—AUGUST 10) – Today, on behalf of parents of students attending charter schools in Jackson, the Mississippi Justice Institute filed a motion to intervene as defendants in a lawsuit pushed by the Southern Poverty Law Center against funding for free public charter schools.

The parents, all residents of Jackson, have children both in Jackson Public Schools and in ReImagine Prep and Smilow Prep, free public charter schools.

“My husband and I are homeowners. We pay our taxes. Our taxes should support our children’s public education, whether they are in a traditional school or in a free, public charter school. We are here today for our kids and for a choice in their education,” said one parent, Gladys Overton at a press conference announcing the action on Wednesday. She continued, “This is about them and their future – nothing else. We simply want an opportunity for our voices to be heard. We will fight for the right to choose a public school for our children that meets their needs.”

Another parent, Tiffany Minor, also spoke at the press conference, “Like all parents, I want my child to have the kind of education that will allow her to pursue her dreams. Why would someone try to take that away from her? I should be able to choose where my children go to school. I’m here today for my daughter. The lawsuit that was filed threatens to close her new school and send her back to the district that failed her. My family needs this public option, and I intend to fight for it.”

Mike Hurst, Director of the Mississippi Justice Institute, said, “Today, brave men, women and children, are stepping forward and speaking out for their rights by filing this motion to intervene in the recent lawsuit filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Free, public charter schools are changing the lives of these students in Jackson. These parents and kids are simply asking for a chance to have their voices heard in the courtroom on an issue that directly impacts their lives and the future of these children and we at the Mississippi Justice Institute intend to stand by them and fight for them.”

The Mississippi Center for Public Policy is an independent, non-profit organization based in Jackson. It works to advance the ideals of free markets, limited government, and strong traditional families. Its work is supported by voluntary, tax-deductible contributions. It receives no funds from government agencies for its operations. To learn more about MCPP, visit

Statements as Prepared for Delivery

Gladys Overton

Hello. My name is Gladys Overton. I am a Jackson resident, a homeowner, a taxpayer and most importantly a mom, who wants the best for her kids and have a choice as to their education. Charter schools are free, public schools that serve all students, even students like my daughter. Though she thrived academically in her old school, bullies caused her to experience anxiety and self-esteem issues. School was not a happy place for her; she relied on medications to help her cope with school. I hated to see my daughter struggle, and I was finally pushed to a point where I knew that I could not sit back and watch my child get worse.

At the end of 4th grade, I wish I could have put her into a private school, but with TWO other children, we did not have the means to do so. I knew I needed to come to my child’s rescue. I needed to give her a fighting chance. I learned about a new type of school that was opening in my South Jackson community, a free public charter school. I learned my child and all 5th grade children in Jackson were eligible to attend a charter school for free. I learned Reimagine Prep had structures in place that could offer a safer and less stressful environment for my child. And it has been a LIFE-CHANGER for my daughter. Now she can go to school and just simply focus on learning without worrying about bullies or unclear expectations.

After only one month of being at Reimagine, we were able to COMPLETELY wean her off medications. Since being at Reimagine, she has grown to LOVE school. She has made so many great relationships with classmates and teachers and this past year, she was elected as secretary of her class. I never WITNESSED these leadership abilities in my child before.

Prior to attending Reimagine, my child attended ONE of the better schools in JPS, and I have two other children who attend JPS. While these schools may be great for some people, they were not the right place for my daughter. They did not meet her needs.

Today, I am here for my daughter. She loves her school. The Southern Poverty Law Center has made a direct threat to our school and my family by challenging how free, public charter schools are funded. If free public charter schools are unable to use local or state tax dollars to operate, they will close. I don’t want to think of what would happen to my daughter in that case.

Again, my husband and I are homeowners. We pay our taxes. Our taxes should support our children’s public education, whether they are in a traditional school or in a free, public charter school. We are here today for our kids and for a choice in their education. This is about them and their future – nothing else. We simply want an opportunity for our voices to be heard. With representation from the Mississippi Justice Institute, we will fight for the right to choose a public school for our children that meets their needs.

Tiffany Minor

Hello. My name is Tiffany Minor, and I’m here today because I want my daughters to have the opportunity to go to good public schools.

This year, I chose a free, public charter school for one of my daughters. Last week, I read that a lawsuit had been filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center that might force her charter school to close. She would then be forced to go back to a JPS school that did not meet her needs. I think all kids deserve better opportunities, not just the ones who can afford private schools, attend magnet programs, or move to better districts. Like all parents, I want my child to have the kind of education that will allow her to pursue her dreams. Why would someone try to take that away from her? I should be able to choose where my children go to school.

Last year, my 4th grade daughter came home from school with a flyer about a new charter school opening up in Jackson. She told me that she wanted to go there. She had no idea what the school was about. She just knew that she didn’t like her school. The flyer said Smillow Prep, a charter school, would open Fall 2016 and would serve Jackson 5th graders. Because my child often complained about the school she attended, she and I got online and looked into it. I never considered another school for my daughter because I live where I live, and I can’t change that. I often imagined her going to a fancy private school across town like the schools I see on TV, but my income cannot provide for that.

The principal at Smilow Prep told me about their dedication to helping kids who struggle, their behavioral system, and their focus on teaching my child life skills. She was so helpful in explaining everything about the school including homework assignments and school structure. Talking to her was the first time I considered that my child could get a different type of education, the kind of education where the school is designed to help her.

With the opening of Smilow Prep, I realized I had another option for at least one of my daughters. She and I have an opportunity to try something different. I no longer have to feel like she’s trapped in a failed system. She just started school last week, so I have yet to see the impact that the school will have on my child, but the opportunity, alone, to move my daughter to a place that WANTS to help her improve is empowering. From the very first conversation I had with the principal, there was a focus on giving kids EXTRA help so they can reach their highest potentials. My child needs this. I feel that the education she’ll get at Smilow Prep will give her the better future she deserves.

I’m here today for my daughter. The lawsuit that was filed threatens to close her new school and send her back to the district that failed her. My family needs this public option, and I intend to fight for it.


Anonymous said...

Nice. Glad Hurst is sticking up for the folks who are really hurt by this frivolous lawsuit.

Anonymous said...

Hurst will do good. It is just unfortunate Hood is tasked with defending the state- something he has said he doesn't like to do and hasn't been very good at.

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly with 1:23 PM, could not find a better person than Mike Hurst to go up against this destructive lawsuit. So grateful to him and Forrest for their wonderful contributions to making our lives better.

Anonymous said...

Forrest Pig-Pin is a little communist and so are these minions working with him. Wake up people.

Anonymous said...

3:03 - and other than the fact that the attorney for these parents is in a non-profit assn with Forrest, what does that have to do with the cause that is being fought here?

I don't care whether you like Forrest or not - this fight against charter schools should be fought with the best that we have - and Hurst fits the bill. These parents and their kids should be able to get their kids out of the failing JPS system and into a school that will give their kids a chance.

Anonymous said...

Yeesh, 3:03. Have you read MCPP's statements or principles? They're about as far from communist as you can get. But don't let me get in the way of your petty insult.

Anonymous said...

I would call it a slam dunk win for these parents and their kids, especially w/ the report on JPS recently released by the MDE. The fact that people have not been fired, stepped down, resigned, a silent city council, etc, speaks volumes to the fact that their are other shenanigens at play here.

Anonymous said...

3:03 = butthurt

Anonymous said...

I'd be pissed if my kid went from a failing public school to one that works, and was going to be forced back into the failed system.

WHY does the state DOE continue to put up with failing schools? WHY can't they remove administrators that are worthless?

Anonymous said...

How are children for the charter schools chosen? What are the "choices" for the children left in the failing schools?

Anonymous said...

4:45--the answer. start more charter schools. you can kick kids out of a charter school that are bad apples--they aren't going to amount to anything but a felon anyway...shouldn't we concentrate on helping those who want to have a better life? I certainly don't blame kids for the situation they were born into. Clearly charter schools are working better than JPS. why not start more to reach more? less expensive, better results, a potential generation of young people who want to make jackson better, less bloated government--a win for everyone, and especially for the kids who were born into poverty who might just have a chance at a better productive life.

BUT... let's not even try and just protect suits working at MDE and JPS. after all, they are more important that the members of the community who try to care. is that what you really want?

Anonymous said...

The plaintiffs are like the zombies grasping at any sign of life trying to pull them into the under world with them. More parents should be fighting for their kids to have a chance rather than fighting for unionized bums to keep drawing a check. Pulling for these parents. And their kids.

Anonymous said...

4:45. The kids are "chosen" in accordance to the process set up when Charters were authorized by the legislature - by lottery. But there is much more to it than that.

The first charter legislation allowed only for students within the school district where the charter was located. And charters could only be created in "D" & "F" districts. If you think those two restrictions were good, then thank your Democrat legislators and the power of the legislative lobbyists for the MDE.

The law was amended this last year that allowed students to cross district lines - thus making it feasible to create a charter in the rural areas of the state, i.e. the MS Delta in particular.

But still - the students are selected through a random lottery. As 5:19 notes, they can be 'kicked out' if they don't follow the rules of the school which includes a much stricter discipline routine than they are used to in the regular public schools.

Anonymous said...

Hurst has been irrelevant since he was beaten by an 18 year old in his GOP precinct election

Anonymous said...

9:06 sounds like some guy that went to high school with Hurst and Mike use to beat his ass and hook up with his sister. Your penis envy is a little creepy.

Get over yourself.

Anonymous said...

From reading the state constitution, the schools will have to be put under Carey Wright.


Anonymous said...

If you are against charter schools all you need to do is look farther up the page to the thread about the drugie leaving the child in the car while he ran. If reading the facebook posts isn't enough to make you change your mind nothing will.

Anonymous said...

I'm rather ambivalent about charter schools. Some work, some don't. And there is definitely no data to support that the charters in Jackson are any better than the JPS schools. They offer an option to parents that can't afford the segre..uh private "academies" in Jackson Metro, which a need and a useful purpose of charter schools.

Charters in theory, I have no objections to. Mainly because they are supposed to be sites of innovation; offering strategies, structures, and interventions on a quasi-experimental basis to see how similarly situated students from traditional public schools would fair. Then, the public schools could scale up any interventions that worked in the charter schools. This justifies their receipt of public money.

But many charters have become in practice, simply money making opportunities for legislatures (in their tax cut greed) if not private charter management companies and/or hedge funds. The charter promise to "do a better job; cheaper", merely means less extra curricular activities and narrowing the curriculum to focus only on skills and content on state tests. This creates a warped sense of academic achievement and intellectual development. Typically, these traits are developed with schooling that centers on rich, relevant, novel and challenging experiences, not over wrought discipline and rote instruction.

Many charters have become notorious for draconian disciplinary policies and practices, staid and antiquated instruction, and hyper segregated classrooms. Look at the reality of New Orleans for a more clear picture of charter schooling in an urban area. Since charters are becoming what public schools, by necessity, cannot (if all you offer for "innovative practices" is kicking the "bad kids" out, then how can a traditional public school do that and be of any use to the community it serves?); it is hard to justify the "robbing Peter to pay Paul" funding structure advocated by the legislature. This is not to day that the parents and students in JPS shouldn't have options. I am advocating for JPS to receive the proper supports and investments it needs to provide real opportunities for social mobility for the poor and minority students it serves. To the degree that charters schools hinder this, they must be reformed. There is no real reason why JPS can't offer better options for parents, rather than charter schools.

Anonymous said...

Oh look. Donna's here to offer the only real solution liberals can think of to any problem - throw money at it, close your eyes, and stick your head waaaaay up where you think it doesn't stink. Thank you Professor Umbridge for your long-winded and worthless opinion which basically accounts to : I don't know why charter schools are bad, but um um um Cedric needs more bowties or that's not faaaaaair!!! I guess it takes a novel to get your opinion across when you live your life protected by a glass bubble surrounded by twenty layers of bubble wrap. I prefer Einstein's approach personally - if you can't explain it simply, you probably don't know what you're talking about.

Anonymous said...

If the truth requires too much thinking on your part, then continue to live in your Fox News-Echo chamber. Meanwhile; we here in the real world will continue to look for and work toward real solutions.

Anonymous said...

@1:56 Found Cedric. He's triggered! Please send bow ties and fake awards ASAP! Sincerely, an educator who has actually worked in JPS. The one who got the right to sue letter from the EEOC -oh wait there were like two dozen of us that year. Good luck narrowing it down.

Anonymous said...

@11:49 - great narrative. However, contains nothing but your opinion. There are lots of facts to back up arguments both for and equal (not against) charters. But you choose not to use any since obviously your knowledge is all that is required.

And to 12:13. You must be reading some other state's constitution - its certainly not found in the Mississippi Constitution of 1890. If you want to get into a debate on that matter, bring it on. Doesn't take much to read the sections in it that cover this issue, and they certainly do not say that all public schools in the state are under the State BOE or the State Superintendent. Bring it on if you can find differently.

Anonymous said...

@ 6:05
This piece ( outlines the issues I have with charters, and how charters were initially conceived as a means to improve traditional public schools, and how school reform movements have changed the scope and function of charters. Please note the similarities between the Black Lives Matter protestations with law enforcement policies and the policies that are championed by many charter supporters and national reformers. The points I make in my pervious post are supported by research and facts.

Anonymous said...

T.he Southern Poverty Law Center is the anti-Midas. Everything they touch turns to poop.

Anonymous said...

9:58 - one article that connects BLM and charters is your basis for the claims you make about the success/failure of charters? Get serious.

There are several studies done across the country regarding charters - and found many to be quite successful and other that were not - as well as those in between. Certainly you can do better with information to support your crap than this one article.

Charters are just like other businesses - some are much more successful than others; generally depends on the management, ownership interest, and market. But most evidence has shown that even the average charter is multiple times better than the current system being offered by JPS and many of the other districts in the state.

Anonymous said...

Thank you 11:13 for offering sanity to this ridiculous back and forth regarding charters and for God's sake, JPS.

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