Sunday, June 23, 2019

Bill Crawford: Suit Exposes Charter School Overreach

“People, not the government, know best how to take care of their own money,” is one of Gov. Phil Bryant’s favorite themes.

You can see it reflected in his consistent opposition to federal government laws and regulations attempting to dictate public policy to Mississippians – on abortion, healthcare, gun rights, school standards, EPA rules, and more. It was there in his published piece supporting Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination, praising the judge’s opinions rejecting “agency overreach.”

It has its roots in Thomas Jefferson’s perspective that "The will of the people... is the only legitimate foundation of any government." And, by that, he meant the will of the majority.

It is a corollary to longtime Republican public policy – dating back to Barry Goldwater – that “The government closest to the people serves the people best.” In other words, since state government is closer to the people, it will serve them better than the federal government.

The Governor is not the only conservative Republican on board with this notion. In the past session of the Legislature, by a vote of 31 to 17 in the Senate and 70 to 46 in the House, Senate Concurrent Resolution 56 was adopted. This is the resolution whereby Mississippi joined 13 other states calling for a convention of the states to amend the U.S. Constitution to “limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government.” The rationale, in part, is “the federal government has invaded the legitimate roles of the states through the manipulative process of federal mandates.”

How ironic, then, that Mississippi government acts just like the federal government when it comes to local government.

This is my very most favorite government hypocrisy. The same complaints state officials use against the federal government can be used against them by local officials.

Ask a mayor about home rule. Ask a supervisor about unfunded state mandates. Ask a school board member about policy flexibility. Indeed, state overreach into local affairs far exceeds federal overreach into state affairs.

Let’s take a look at the lawsuit against charter schools now pending in the Mississippi Supreme Court.

The state established charter schools outside the normal public school domain. They do not answer to local elected school boards and have their own state agency, not the Mississippi Department of Education. In setting them up, the state mandated that local schools transfer funds to charter schools, so much per local student attending the charter school. This includes a share of local tax revenue as well as state revenue.

Now, remember that local elected school boards set property tax millage rates based on what the regular public schools need to operate. Maximum millage and annual increases are also limited by state mandates.

Parents of students in Jackson public schools have sued the state for taking their local tax money and giving it to charter schools in the city.

The state contends school money, state and local, should follow the students.

Local school advocates contend, since neither local voters nor local school boards had a say in the establishment or operation of these charter schools, just the state, tax money local school boards authorized should stick with the schools for which the money was intended.


Sure looks like state government overreach to me. Local school boards are a lot closer to the majority of their people than state government.

Crawford is a syndicate columnist from Meridian.


Anonymous said...

No, they don’t answer to the bureaucracy. Do you know who they answer to, Mr. Crawford? They answer to PARENTS. One would think that would be of the utmost importance for a state functions that serves children, but to people like Mr. Crawford, the answer is always MORE GUB’MENT.

Anonymous said...

Crawford schilling for the SPLC made me lose the last little respect I had for the man.

Anonymous said...

The local school district collects taxes for the students that live in the geographic area that defines the school dI strict Bill. They don't collect taxes for the benefit of the government entity that us described - by state statute by the way- call a school district.

These charter schools that Bill and his buddies at the Southern Poverty Center cry their crocodile tears over are located witin that geographic boundary defining a school district and serve the students that reside within it.

The taxes collected by a district - for example, JPS - are paid by the property owners within that geographic boindry. NOT so that the unelected scool board can do with them as they please (while in JPS's case largely ignoring providing a reasonableor proper education for the students) but the taxes are paid solely and only for educating the students. Theread was no harm done to the plantiffs in this case, as was acknowledge in their depositions, because of the money paid to the charter schools by the district.

To argue that government closest to the people is the one and only mantra totally ignores the fact that sometimes that government fails. And just as MDE at times takes over control of a local school district because of their failure, the MS Charter School Board also offers a method to deal with the failure of that 'government closest to the people'.

Bill has blown it bad on this one, but since he has evidently decided to try to fill the void in MS column-writing left by Bill Minor and his ghost writer for the past decade, we shouldn't be surprised. Most everything Bill has written the past several months could have just as easily been write by Bill/Paul Minor.

Anonymous said...

Your glorious State DOR has destroyed many people! Why in the name of hell have they, who work for us, been given goddamn authority to ruin our lives. Hey came after business owners during the Obama era and many of us were defuckingstroyed by that damn bunch of thugs who confiscated Bernie’s building!!!!! Yeah.... I got the red ass!!!!

Anonymous said...

My bet is not a 'charter school overreach' as the headline suggests, but rather that the Supremes will show (7-2) that this was another Jody Owens / Will Bardwell SPLC 'overreach with their latest attempt to move the state in a leftward lirch.

Mr. Crawford's Weak Analysis.. said...

If Mr. Crawford's analysis were to hold water, Should local government:

Set the speed limit on interstate and state highways passing through a municipality?

Set creel limits and boating under the influence laws on rural public lakes?

Set regulations on sixteenth section land within their districts?

Set and enforce environmental quality regulations with a municipality?

Set holidays, times public agency offices are open and regulations that control banks?

While it's true that all politics is local, it is not true that all regulation-setting should be turned over to locals.

The nation and the states are obligated constitutionally to provide education for youth. Local government is not (except as mandated by the state).

Anonymous said...

Crawford is correct on this one, those *sses wrote the law and now they will have to live with the consequences. The parents win.

Anonymous said...

The blurb about charter schools was a stretch for sure, but he got one thing right...the last 8 years has been nothing but sh** rolling down hill toward the counties and cities. Every time our state "leaders" say they cut costs, they really just pushed costs down onto counties and cities.

David Ready said...

They do not answer to local elected school boards and have their own state agency, not the Mississippi Department of Education.

And thank goodness they don't answer to the MDE. The MDE has just about used up their stupid passes. Can someone explain to me why our State Superintendent of Education makes more money than God?

Anonymous said...

@5:28 PM, are you suggesting those of us who still live in Jackson should kick in even MORE money through greater pub ed funding via higher taxes?

Anonymous said...

Oh... Jody Owens child has school choice... he goes to Catholic school. He is able to have a choice because he can pay. My 2 kids go to charter school. I can't pay private school tuition. The democrats are seeing black voters favor school choice much more than white voters do. Why not give parents that can't afford private schools a choice. Ok!

Anonymous said...

@6:01pm: Pay less, expect more. Brilliant strategy. Sounds like you're out of passes yourself.

Anonymous said...

Can anyone clarify this question:

Is the budget of a school district based on the students enrolled in that district or the total number of students living in that district?

If the number is "students enrolled", then the school district is getting shortchanged when money is transferred to the charters. If it's based on "students living in the disctrict", then the money should follow the student. I suspect that it's based on "students enrolled" but someone out there should know the correct answer.

Rod Knox said...

So many special people in Mississippi and the governor must choose which ones to give special consideration....... and which ones will get the shaft.

Anonymous said...

"The nation and the states are obligated constitutionally to provide education for youth."

Where in the hell did you people get your copies of the Constitution? No government, federal, state or local, is constitutionally-obligated to provide any education to anyone nor is anyone constitutionally entitled to an education of any kind or type (i.e., it is not a right). The primary constitutional aspect of education is the SCOTUS has ruled the equal protection clause requires that _IF_ a state chooses to provide education, it cannot discriminate based upon race, etc.

Anonymous said...

5:14 - Take another toke. You're in the Twilight Zone.

Anonymous said...

The " people" may be best at using their own money and are free to do so.
But, when you are using tax dollars, it's "other people's earnings" and oversight is needed to protect their interest.

Anonymous said...

5:14, I'll take that bet. The parents might even lose on standing, as well as their argument on the money.

I'll even give you an over under of 6 on the votest against the oarents, and I'll take the over.

Hard to win a case when the facts, and the law, are agains you.

Anonymous said...

Luckily you guys are anonymous, otherwise your money would be taken. They definitely have standing and will probably prevail in short order if they have kids in school or pay any taxes.

Anonymous said...

So true Bill the FED's and State's do overstep their authority into local governments matters. Thomas Jefferson was also a great defender of minority rights against the majority. Charter Schools exist for one purpose-to provide an adequate education to those students who the public schools have failed to serve. Show me a county or city that has A or B rated public schools that also have Charter Schools?

Anonymous said...

9:43, let's get together, not anonymously, and make that bet.

The plantiffs have not shown any harm, in fact gave affidavits that their concern was that the district "might, in the future" not be able to do certain things. There is no question that JPS (or any other district that has a charter within it) has standing, but the issue of parents without having been harmed is certainly questionable.

I'll make the bet - not on standing alone, but on the outcome. Bring it on.

Anonymous said...

6:49 A.M. The "budget" of the school district is based on neither, actually.

The state gives the school district "X" amount of money per student. That is true to the students that attend JPS, and they give the same money per student to the kids in the charters.

The district, though, taxes real estate for "y" mils per year, based on what they claim they need. It is not based on the number of students enrolled.

Actually, over the past few years, JPS student population has decreased from 33,000 students to slightly over 25,000 students, but the property tax assessed has remained the same.

What the charter law provides is that the district will transfer to the charters an amount equal to what it collects "per student" to the charters "per student" - so the funds collected from the property tax follows the student.

Anonymous said...

Does one have to show "harm" in the case of a constitutional violation?

Or can the court override the constitution if there is no harm?

Anonymous said...

"They definitely have standing and will probably prevail in short order if they have kids in school or pay any taxes."

Speaking of 'standing', a group of parents sued the school district inDesoto County last year due to the fact that the state flag is not flown at the schools, as clearly required by law of high schools.

The judge dismissed the case out of hand claiming the plaintiffs did not have standing and could not sue a school district. Yes, two of them had children in the system.

Chuck Ingel said...

7:44 - Each state is required by its state constitution to provide a school system whereby children may receive an education. Additionally, 20 USC ss 1400 requires an individual education program for disabled children.

You sound like the guy who wanted to whip the teacher's ass for teaching his boy to read on Little House. Is your name Nels Olsen?

Anonymous said...

Y'all might bother to find out why it is that private schools in Mississippi seek and succeed in becoming eligible to receive federal money.

You will not create any school to adequately educate your children anywhere on local or state or private funds alone unless there's a billionaire and then they will dictate the curriculum.

And, if you want a college education for your child, you'd best know that all colleges weight the school attended . So , your little precious had better test really, really high on the ACT or SAT or else you are limiting the choices.

And, you might want to bother to look at courses routinely offered in the States with the best educational systems and learn what your child never learns.

And, parents who have never once taken an advanced child development or education or behavioral or parenting or math course or running the schools is what is wrong with the schools.

Anonymous said...

Ah, 7:44:

Mississippi’s Constitution of 1868, drafted by a biracial convention, was the first legislation to provide for free public education for all children. The constitution established a uniform system of free public schools, by taxation or otherwise, for all children between the ages of five and twenty-one years.

Keyword, just for your benefit is 'constitution'.

Anonymous said...

922, what private schools in MS receive federal money? Under what program?

And on what basis can you claim that no private school can be created to properly educate kids on local or state or private funds alone? B/S! Several private schools doing a good job of educating kids without local or state dollars and that don't have a billionaire backing them.

Ever seen St Andrews in Jackson? Recognized as one of the top schools in the country and it doesn't get local, or state funds and has no billionaire endowment.

Run your dribble elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

10:02 NEWSFLASH Private schools receive a lot of federal funding. Do your own homework.

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