Supporters of school choice expansion in Mississippi likely felt betrayed last week after the Senate Education Committee (SEA) passed a bill supporting education freedom – only to send it to the full Senate … where it eventually died.
Senate Bill 2623, authored by SEA Chairman Gray Tollison, would have expanded the current Education Scholarship Account (ESA) program to most students throughout the state – if it passed the Senate.
Prior to going to the full Senate, Empower Mississippi President Grant Callen explained that the bill had some strong support.
"The lieutenant governor supports [it], and the governor supports it, and we anticipate it coming out of the Senate and heading over to the House, where we'll be working to encourage House members to take it up and support it," Callen pointed out at the time.
But instead if pushing it through, the Senate declined to vote on the bill.
Empower Mississippi Director of External Relations Brett Kittredge maintains that while this is a setback, progress was actually made.
"But we feel successful in that this is the most school choice that has ever been talked about,” Kittredge pointed out. “It was, for a while, -- everyone at the capitol was talking about it. So, we've elevated the conversation – and the conversation is all students. It's not [just] certain subgroups of students."
In fact, OneNewsNow reported earlier this year that Empower Mississippi commissioned a poll conducted last December by Cygnal and found that an overwhelming majority (77 percent) of more than 500 likely Mississippi voters support school choice, which gives parents the right to use tax dollars to send their children to the public or private school of their choice.
In a written statement, Callen announced that school choice supporters will continue to try and advance the bill in next year's session.