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Hundreds Rally At Capitol for School Choice
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Grant Callen at lectern, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Far Rt.
Desare Frazier

Mississippi parents are rallying at the Capitol for more educational choices.

Hundreds of children joined parents and teachers at the capitol, to hear advocates talk about the need for more educational options in Mississippi. Grant Callen is with Empower Mississippi and organized the annual rally. He says parents should have the right to decide what type of school is best for their child.

"What matters is that parents have a choice and so we were celebrating the options that are currently available in Mississippi and we were also urging lawmakers to continue to expand opportunities and choices for children who may not have them today," said Callen.

Callen says there are about 1,100 children in charter schools, special programs or receiving scholarships in the state.  Tiffany Minor's 5th grade daughter attends a charter school in Jackson. She says her daughter is getting the extra help she needs.

"To see her math and her reading improving from a 3rd grade level to a 6th grade level and it's not even the end of school, it's awesome," said Minor.

When a child enrolls in a charter school, state funds for that student goes with him or her.  Grant Callen says letting the funding follow the child increases competition and makes public schools more effective. But, critics like Cassandra Welchlin with the Women's Economic Security Initiative says siphoning money away from public schools, which are already under funded is wrong.

"When you don't fund something the way it needs to be you're setting up that infrastructure to fail and so that's what occurring and so I get that parents want to be able to have their kids in the best possible school environment but the conversation has to be putting the dollars where they're supposed to be," said Welchlin. 

Lawmakers are in the midst of reviewing recommendations about the public school funding formula, which could make local districts pay more of their education costs.