Guide to School Choice in Mississippi

By: National School Choice Week Team

Choosing a school? You’ve got options. 

 If you live in Mississippi, you have access to more K-12 education options than you might realize. Navigating these options and finding the best fit for your child can make a world of difference for your family. This guide will breakdown the six types of schools available to you, as well as provide additional education resources and school choice news.

Mississippi families can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.

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Mississippi Traditional Public Schools

Traditional public schools are operated by school districts, free to attend, open to all students, and funded by federal, state, and local government. Did you know that Mississippi spends an average of $10,240 per public school student each year? 

In Mississippi, the state allows each district to set its own open enrollment policies; the state only requires districts to offer open enrollment if parents live 30 miles away from their child’s assigned school. “Open enrollment” allows parents to send their children to any public school, regardless of where it is located. Mississippi parents parents should check with their local school district if they wish to participate in open enrollment. If you do have access to open enrollment, this can expand the list of public schools you can choose from, helping you find the best match for your family. 

Mississippi Charter Schools

Depending on where you live in Mississippi, you might have access to a public charter school. Like traditional public schools, charter schools are public, free, and typically have no requirements for entry. What distinguishes charter schools is that they enjoy extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods and are accountable to authorizing bodies for results. 

Mississippi passed legislation allowing charter schools in 2010; the state currently has 3 charter schools serving about 400 students. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves, whether that be providing a language immersion program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system (like drawing random names out of a hat!)  is usually used to determine admittance. 

Mississippi Magnet Schools

You can also choose magnet schools! Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the performing arts. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track. Mississippi has several magnet schools scattered throughout the state, and these might be a good option if your kid learns best by focusing in on a subject he or she is passionate about. 

Mississippi Private Schools

Private schools offer a unique learning environment that may be smaller in size, pass on a specific religious tradition, or provide a different curriculum than is available in your district school. Private can be defined as nonpublic schools that charge tuition. In Mississippi, there are several state-run scholarship programs helping families with special needs gain access to private schools. 

Mississippi Online Learning

Whether your child wants to accelerate his or her learning or needs a quieter environment in which to focus, don’t overlook virtual school as an option. While many other states do, Mississippi does not offer a free, full-time online school. However, students can enroll in part-time classes at the Mississippi Virtual Public School, and have their fees paid by their local district. 

Mississippi Homeschooling

Mississippi parents can also choose homeschooling; this is a great option if you are looking for a hands-on, highly-customizable approach to your child’s education. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home. Parents can homeschool in all 50 states. Check here for resources about homeschooling specific to Mississippi. 

Education Resources for Mississippi Parents 

For additional information about school choices in Mississippi, visit these resources: 

School Choice Celebrations in Mississippi

National School Choice Week 2020 will take place January 26 – February 1, 2020. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Click here for ideas, inspiration, and more information! 

Mississippi will celebrate National School Choice Week 2020 with a record-breaking 640 events and activities across the state. Learn more about some of these celebrations at schoolchoiceweek.com/states/mississippi/.

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