Friday, May 3, 2024

MCPP: School Choice for me but not for Thee

Ever wondered why there has been so little progress towards school choice in Mississippi?

In a recent radio interview, Mississippi state Senator David Blount was asked by Paul Gallo if he supported school choice. Senator Blount, who is Vice Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, made it clear he was against school choice. 
Blount criticized “taking taxpayer money and giving it to private schools”. 
Except it seems as if Senator Blount might have sent his own kids to private school.

Corey DeAngelis, a school choice campaigner, picked up on Senator Blount’s comments, tweeting that Senator Blount sent his own kids to private school. 
If true, it means that Senator Blount’s position is to deny to other families in Hinds County, the district he represents, the school choice opportunities he had. 
It’s never right to criticise a politician over where they send their child to school. We should support the right of every parent to seek the best for their kids. In fact, it is great when parents, including state Senators, have those opportunities. But those opportunities should be available for everyone.

Senator Blount makes it sound as though tax dollars belong to school boards. Tax dollars belong to the taxpayer. Tax dollars are there to provide children with an education.

Why not allow Mississippi families to allocate their portion of education tax dollars to a school that best meets their needs? This is what now happens in a growing number of US states. Arkansas, Alabama, Georgia and – hopefully – Louisiana now all allow families to allocate their share to state education tax dollars to a school of their choice.

The idea that tax dollars must only be spent on public education providers is nonsense. Public dollars get spent at private institutions when it comes to Head Start, Pell grants, and social security. If we adopted Senator Blount’s logic, we would force low-income families to spend their food stamps at government grocery stores.

Now are you starting to see why Mississippi has made so little progress towards school choice?

In a rock solidly conservative state, we somehow manage to end up with a Vice Chairman of the Senate Education Committee, David Blount, adamantly against school choice. Why? How does someone so opposed to the conservative position on education get appointed to that position?

Seeing how Senator Blount responded to Corey, it strikes that perhaps those opposed to school choice just aren’t that accustomed to having to defend their opposition to change. They should get accustomed.

Momentum for school choice in our state is only going to grow. Mississippi will soon be surrounded by states that allow families control over their education tax dollars. School choice is THE flagship policy that unites every wing of the conservative movement.

In this exchange between Senator Blount and Corey DeAngelis, we see the battle lines of the future being drawn. In the coming months, it will take a very brave, or very foolish, lawmaker to oppose school choice if it turns out that they themselves sent their kids to private school.

This post was sponsored and authored by Douglas Carswell. He is the President & CEO of the Mississippi Center for Public Policy.


Anonymous said...

So how is the following a conservative idea : All taxpayers in Mississippi will have a portion of their taxes go toward tuition at a private school whereby that private school can then pick and choose which priviledged taxpayers child can have the honor of attending their upstanding school?? This is the most NON CONSERVATIVE idea Ive heard recently.Blount PAID for his kids to go to private school, he did not expect others to give him a handout. We have WAY too many RINO's in the Ms. Legislature. EVERY parent has the right to send their child to PUBLIC schools because a portion of EVERY Ms. taxpayers taxes goes to pay for public schools . It is all pretty simple actually..............

Anonymous said...

Why can't you be a public school supporter/against vouchers and send your kids to private school?????

Kingfish said...

LSenator Blount responded in an email:

I’m still not clear on what the Mississippi Center for Public Policy supports, but it sounds to me like they are advocating for the State of Mississippi, either directly (through appropriation) or indirectly (in the form of a tax credit), to pay tuition at private schools for all Mississippi students. Here are two reasons why I think this is a bad idea:

1. Cost. The base student cost funded by the state is $6,983. If the state provides a tax credit or voucher to every student currently in private schools (approx. 50,000) + Catholic/Church schools (5,000 est.) + home school students (20,000 est.) + 10% of current public school students (estimate of those who move to private schools) the total cost is about $750 million. These are conservative numbers. Because the state (unlike the federal government) balances the budget this amount must be funded by a tax increase or cutting existing programs (since the cost for most of these students is not being paid by the state). You can look at the budget here:

Other states have found these programs to be much more expensive than originally projected. See this Associated Press story about a similar program in Arizona: The evidence shows that most of the families receiving funds were already in private schools, not students who chose to leave public schools to attend private schools.

2. Resulting inflation from increased government spending/subsidies. If the government sends a check or provides a tax credit of $6,983 to every student that can be used for private school tuition what will happen to tuition at these schools? I believe it will go up, in some cases by $6,983. The schools will use the new revenue to increase teacher salaries, improve facilities, etc. This may reduce the cost of tuition for some students already at private schools but that’s not the reason for the program as advocated.

I was a Jackson Public Schools parent for thirteen years (I miscounted in my tweet). My children went to St. Andrew’s Episcopal School (affiliated with our church) for high school. Regardless of where the children of the Governor, Lt. Governor, Speaker of the House, or any member of the Legislature attend(ed) school I believe we are all trying to do our best for public schools, even when we might disagree. I supported the new Mississippi School Funding Formula, a bipartisan effort that increases funding for our public schools. That should be our first priority.

Anonymous said...

@May 3, 2024 at 11:34 AM

You can. MCPP doesn't want that to be a thing because it makes sense. MCPP doesn't want to pay for private schools... they want you to do it for them.

Their argument put another way is simple:
Why can't everyone have a Lexus because we provide public transportation?

Also, the framers of our state constitution made it pretty clear they didn't want public funds going to private educational institutions. They contemplated and explicitly made it so. If MCPP doesn't like that... then they can change it through the referendum process. Wait... we don't have one... but MCPP isn't pushing for that are they?

RINO conservatives.

Anonymous said...

I'm honestly confused. Are they wanting to take tax dollars, give to private schools, and then open enrollment to anyone who wants to now that they are getting tax dollars? If that's the case, no, I'm not for that. However, if I have a child at a private school, and was able to divert some of my tax dollars to said private school in addition to tuition, yeah, that would be fine with me. Our state is too poor, and not populated enough, for the private school parents to withdraw 100% of their tax dollars earmarked for education and send to their private school of choice. I realize that and my kid goes to private school.

Anonymous said...

No public money in private accounts.


Anonymous said...

I find it convenient that the wealthy conservative donors who fund MCPP and Carswell who already send their kids to private school are the ones who are going to benefit the most from this as Blount noted. Also by buying into this "school choice" garbage it is only going to mean the tuition rates at Prep, JA, St Andrews are going to skyrocket. Do you think the people paying for those schools want them overrun by JPS kids? Hell no. What will happen is a bunch of for profit grifter "private schools" are going to pop up and those are the ones the JPS kids will be subjected to and the standards and conditions will be deplorable and countless kids will fall through the cracks while the Betsy Devos and Nancy News of the world cash in.

Anonymous said...

17 states have some form of Choice accounts for kids' education. Public School administrations have been a rotten place to put money and then expect results that educate students in MS.

Some states limit Choice accounts to parents earning less than 300% of poverty level. Attention lazy ass legislature: work on it!

Anonymous said...

I will agree to anything they decide to do if they will just give me back the tax dollars I have paid in for schooling. I do not have a child in any school and have never had any child in a Ms. school. Just send me a check for what I have paid in and haven't used and never will use.

Anonymous said...

True, Bounts kids went to JPS
Were they in "GEN pop" version of JPS?
Werent they in the jps version of a cushy "club fed" APAC

Just like

Kenny Wayne Jones from Canton didn't have his kids in Canton public schools.. St Andrew's for him too
Ed Blackmons kids didn't go to Canton or MC ether..St A
David L Archie... same for his Lil angel
But all the folks they "represent" are deemed not as valuable as their Lil angels...and given the chance to escape and do better

Obama ended lottery for poor DC kids to escape the DC Gen pop schools..

What was it G W Bush said?
"Bigotry of low ecpectations" in the educational system

Anonymous said...

If you can't afford private school, your kid has no right to be there. They have already fucked up the public schools, now they want to ruin the private ones too.

Anonymous said...

There is no way there are 55,000 private school students in Mississippi.

The MAIS reports around 27,,000. Tupelo Christian, St. Andrew's, St. Stanislaus and OLA (the MHSAA private schools) don't have 28,000 combined students.

The average private school in Mississippi has 222 students. The largest is Northstar (2,038), MRA (1310), JA (1200), Hartfield (960), PCS (945).

For the 120 private schools in MS to have 55,000 students, each school would have to have 458.

There are 28 private schools that have more than 458 students and 92 that have less than 458.

Anonymous said...

"School choice" includes many other aspects than just using taxpayer's money to support their sending their children to a private or parachoial school.

School choice also lets families send their children to schools outside of their zip code - other government funded schools - so that their children can get a decent education when the one in their 'neighborhood' is failing.

Yes, school choice among government funded schools has some limitations; Rankin County would not be forced to accept thousands of students from within inner city Jackson should those families in the inner city want to get their kids into a decent school - Rankin County taxpayers are not responsible for paying to educate all of Jackson's kids. But with the infusion of tax dollars tied to those inner-city kids, the acceptance of as many as their system can handle would be a boom to the other county school.

Or in a much more likely scenario, those kids stuck at a school who's non-stellar record indicates its failures, the parents could choose to go to another JPS school located elsewhere in the city.

Yes, it would also let a parent use the tax dollars associated with the student apply to see if they could meet the standards required by a private school to be admitted. Should they meet the standards - other than being able to run fast or jump high if the kid can do that, there may be no need for the tax dollars; scholarships are available at some of those private schools anyway. But if its a kid that can meet the academic standards, the parents can use the tax dollars associated with the child to offset some or possibly all of the tuition.

What's wrong with that? Removing the kids from the government funded schools should be reducing the cost of operating those government funded schools. Has anyone like the honorable Senator from Belhaven ever thought about what would happen to JPS if the private/parochial schools in the area were not operating? If the taxpayer parents living in Jackson were not paying for their students attending school at JP, JA, SA, SJ, and others were not paying that tuition but had their kids attending the government funded school - JPS - that they were also paying to support, JPS would have to educate another ten to fifteen thousand students and would have to do that with the same amount of taxpayer support as they are currently receiving.

Anonymous said...

Question: Why do we levy taxes on the public for the purpose of educating children?

Answer: Because we all agree that it is in society's interest to have an educated population.

Question: So in regard to any particular child, who should have the right to decide where and how that child is educated -- the government or the parents?

(My) Answer: The parents. Give them a voucher and let them use it wherever they want.

Saltwaterpappy said...

Don't forget that the Mississippi Constitution specifically prohibits the use of taxpayer money to pay for schools which are religion based.

Anonymous said...

We already have school choice. Choose where you want to live if you want to send your kids to public school OR choose to pay for private school.

The state has zero obligation to fund private schools. If you want private education, you gotta pay..

if you can't afford it--that's your problem in that you dont earn enough money to pay for it, or you chose a low paying career. again-not my problem-its yours.

its left wing to take handouts like that..

Anonymous said...

We don't need no education. We don't need no thought control.

Anonymous said...

Why not allow parents who send their kids to private/home schools to be exempt from paying property taxes to public schools for the when their kids aren't in public schools?

As a parent of kids who went to public schools, this is not objectionable. All property owners are forced to support some public schools, and some of these public schools are truly dreadful. At least give a break to parents who are willing to sacrifice when they have no viable public school option.

Anonymous said...


"Yes, school choice among government funded schools has some limitations; Rankin County would not be forced to accept thousands of students from within inner city Jackson should those families in the inner city want to get their kids into a decent school - Rankin County taxpayers are not responsible for paying to educate all of Jackson's kids. But with the infusion of tax dollars tied to those inner-city kids, the acceptance of as many as their system can handle would be a boom to the other county school."

I can tell you right now, nobody at RCSD district office wants IEP, behavior plan, 504 kids no matter how many dollars may come with them. And the RCSD parents don't want them either. Same goes for Madison.

And that's the problem with "school choice" as far as public schools go. If I wanted my kids to go to school with inner city JPS kids then I'd live in that zone. Housing sure would be cheaper if I did.

Anonymous said...

In Mississippi School Boards have taxing authority. They tell the Board of Supervisors of the County what taxes to levy on property within the county. The county Board of Supervisors has no discretion to deny or limit the school board's assessment.

Anonymous said...

David Blount paid for his kids to go to high school. And he paid taxes for other kids to go to school. I have no problem with this.

MCPP wants taxpayers to pay for kids to go to private schools. They are calling this "school choice." I do have a problem with this.

If you can and want to pay the tuition, send your kids wherever they are accepted. If you cannot pay, send your kids to the public school where you live.

Or apply for a scholarship. Plenty of kids in the metro area attend private school on scholarship. Some schools require you to be athletic. Others require you to be a minority. Get in where you can.

MCPP really needs to find a purpose. Its board is a majority of Presbyterians bitter because they paid tuition to Prep and taxes to JPS.

Anonymous said...

"In Mississippi School Boards have taxing authority. They tell the Board of Supervisors of the County what taxes to levy on property within the county. The county Board of Supervisors has no discretion to deny or limit the school board's assessment."

@ 3:59, You are exactly correct. These corrupt school boards are pillaging the funds, and in turn are keeping the system top heavy with administration, but not paying teachers. There should be some accountability.

Anonymous said...

Sen. Blount is a socialist, and like all good socialists, he doesn't want failing public schools ot have to compete with successful private schools.

Anonymous said...

2:41, what about dark sarcasm in the classroom? Yes? No? Maybe?

Anonymous said...

End of the day, I want to be able to spend my money to send my children to a school which doesn’t have in it the type of scholars these compromising voucher schemes will allow to be enrolled.

RINOs will be the death of us all.

Anonymous said...

May 3, 2024 at 7:58 PM, as long as the current scheme is in place, it is folly to expect a better educational outcome. The administration top-heavy system is nothing more than job security for those that chose the teaching profession, but cannot teach.

Put the money where it belongs, in the classroom. You have people in administration that cannot relate to the desire, and the burden of the classroom teacher.

Anonymous said...

Putting more money in the classrooms.

Just like saying let the doctors practice medicine.

Sounds great!

But then everyone goes bankrupt.

You need a strong administration in any endeavor.

Anonymous said...

May 4, 2024 at 1:56 PM, explain how you go bankrupt by paying the teachers in the classroom. What administrative staff are you employed in?

Anonymous said...

There are typically three main classifications of schools: public, private, and parochial. Parochial schools are affiliated with a church or parish, such as Saint Joseph, Saint Andrews, and Saint Richards. However, it's important to note that these schools were not established in the 1960s due to the federal government's mandate to integrate schools. Conversely, institutions like Jackson Academy, Jackson Prep, and Canton Academy emerged in response to desegregation efforts and are commonly categorized as private schools.

When considering Saint Andrews, it becomes clear that its classification and the nature of its student body should be approached differently. From its inception, Saint Andrews has operated with a distinct mission and purpose, setting it apart from other schools. Therefore, it may not be fair to categorize Saint Andrews in the same group as institutions that responded to desegregation mandates.

Anonymous said...

How about being exempt from school tax when you have no kids in school?

Anonymous said...

"How about being exempt from school tax when you have no kids in school?"

Now people (liberal) will say,
"you have to have 'good' public education, it helps your property values'
People in Canton Public School taxing area say 'Whaaatt?'
People in Jackson Public School taxing area say 'What time does JA, Prep, etc" start today

Like all 'good' liberal ideas they want to trap the people who have no choice and throw them crumbs while exempting themselves (see Obamacare exceptions for congress and government employees, see the FISA 702 spying bill etc). PS I am sure St Andrews charges 'full' price for the pols lil chil'ren lol.

If you want to see how bad people want to get out of public education in places like DC check out the numbers of people who signed up for the limited 'voucher program" in DC at non gub schools, that is before the liberal hero ended the practice and threw them to the mob of D educators chanting 'we want barabbas'...trapping the children in DC skools to the D Mob's delight.

Anonymous said...

At 6:04 - So, pretend you live in the day of Little House on the Prairie and most children reach adulthood with from zero schoolhouse-learning all the way up to sixth grade. How many sawmills are there to absorb them into the workforce? Or do they all catch a train back-east to shine shoes?

Anonymous said...

Just keep in mind that $6,983 is probably more than 66% of the Jackson population pays in total income taxes per year. Now multiply that by 2,3,4 or 8 kids & that money really adds up.

Hopefully there will be checks & balances in-place that makes sure the monies are spent appropriately. Payment via tax credits would be a terrible idea.

While in spirit I agree with the concept of letting parents decide where their kids go to school. And since it is their money that is going to pay that portion of "education" for the state I get the desire for them to want to use that money to send their kids to the schools of their choice.

However, in implementation, as an example the Jackson Public Schools would go under even more quickly than it is. A lot of middle to upper-middle class families would send their kids to private school if they got $6,983 per child. So the JPS system would lose a huge chunk of revenue. And of course have to severely cut back on number of teachers, etc, etc & very soon the JPS system would be bankrupt & not-surprisingly shut down.

This would leave 10s of 1,000s of kids with no schooling, running the streets & Jackson would decline at a much greater rate than it's doing on it's own accord as we speak...

Anonymous said...

There is not a "do nothing" option to keep the status quo. Within ten years nobody will be able to agree on a discipline standard that would apply to the schools so parents are going to clamor for the option to associate with like minded parents who subscribe to a set discipline policy and crucially not be subject to the whims of a federal administration ready to make everyone else fit their view of the world.

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