The Mississippi State legislator is back in session. This is the first Republican led House since reconstruction. So, as you can imagine, many new bills have been submitted for this session. One of the most popular bills is the adoption of charter schools in Mississippi.
After reading an article in The Clarion Ledger (read article at: http://www.clarionledger.com/article/20120223/NEWS/202230346/Senate-reconsider-its-charter-school-approval?odyssey=tab%7Ctopnews%7Ctext%7CHome ) I posted the link Facebook asking people what they thought. I received great feedback. Interesting enough, the best feedback came from those in education. All three of the teachers were in favor of charter schools and what they offered in terms of quality education. They explained how the teachers and curriculum of these schools were going to be held to a higher standard while keeping the parents taxes in the school of their choosing.
Although I enjoyed reading the responses from a educational perspective, I took a slightly different approach to the article. Over the past eight months my classmates and I have been trying to change the way we see things. I began the program only able to view “development” as suburb neighborhoods full of single-family homes. However, I am slowly changing my view of this term. I am beginning to ask myself more questions than “Can I buy this piece of dirt, build something on it, and sell it at a profit before the bank calls the note?” I guess working on case studies that cover $9 Billion dollar projects in Las Vegas will make you do that. Anyways, I wanted to share part of my response here.
“Last semester one of my final projects included the purchase and redevelopment of an abandon office building in the heart of downtown Jackson. My final proposal included secure parking, a few street level retail units, and 18 urban style loft apartments on the top three floors. The building itself made a lot of since but there was something bothering me. Jackson, like many other metro cities, has seen its share of hard times over the past 20 years. However, I (and many others) believe it is in the beginning stages of revitalization.
The main question I kept asking myself is “Why would people not want to move here?” The largest reasons that I discovered were infrastructure, crime, and education. Personally, I do not want to spend a few days a month under a boil water notice or worry about my wife being mugged outside our home. Furthermore, I sure as hell would not be sending my daughter to the public school options in that area. I believe two of the three are relatively (broadly speaking) easy to fix in a short period of time. With the right leadership roads and water lines can be fixed and crime can be brought under control. However, even with great leadership, changing the public education system can take a generation. Reading this article gave me cause to believe there could be a third option in this matter other than poor public education of very expensive private schools.”
A quick Google search tells me that the average tuition for a good private school such as Jackson Academy, Jackson Prep, St. Andrews’s etc. is a little over $1,000 per month per child. The good news is that most will give you a small discount for more than three children enrolled. Great! Add in the fact that my property taxes are funding the public school that my children pass on their way to private school. As you can see, this quickly becomes ridiculous when you see how well the suburb school districts are performing.
I can see where developers could easily be excited about this bill. It opens the door to a third option of education. The presence of this option would weigh heavily when developers are performing a feasibility analysis on projects in some areas.
P.S. If you live in the Jackson area and simply can not wrap your head around the thought of living in downtown Jackson, feel free to replace “Downtown Jackson” with “Canton.” There is a lot of beautiful land in north Madison County that is prime for development. However, the target market for these developments would not be interested in enrolling their children in the Canton School District.