Atlanta Continues to Expand Charter School Options

On Monday the Atlanta school board unanimously approved the Atlanta Classical Academy, a K-8 charter school scheduled to open for the 2014-15 school year. With about 10 percent of APS students attending locally approved charter schools, the district continues to be a leader in offering public school options.

The board approved the new charter school despite objections from Superintendent Erroll Davis, who argued that the board should reject all charter applications until the Georgia Supreme Court rules on whether charter schools should have to contribute toward payment of the district’s pension liability of more than $500 million.  Atlanta charter school teachers do not receive benefits from the district’s pension system, but the district is withholding $2.8 million from the district’s charter schools in an effort to force them to pay part of last year’s unfunded pension.

While Davis recommended denial, the district’s review committee found that the petition was worthy of approval based on the quality of the application. Davis’s opinion is another example of public schools placing the needs of adults over students.

Commendably, the board prioritized providing students with high quality options and approved the school.

You Have to Know Your Choices before Making One

In communities across Georgia, too often parents that have school choice options are unaware of the opportunities that exist. Not because they don’t care, but because we haven’t done enough to share. Share the options, what they mean, and how to access them. GCO’s School Choice Handbook does just that. This is one of my favorite parts of the job—making information available to parents in a real way so they are armed with information and ready to proactively address the needs of their children.

Unfortunately, some areas in Georgia are limited in its choice options where they need alternative approaches to educating students in a way that sparks not only academic growth but personal character development as well. I believe we will get there one day, perhaps maybe even one choice at a time. However, we must begin with one student at a time.

Maybe you know someone that may need an alternative for a special needs student in a public school. Perhaps you know of a student who wants to pursue private school or charter school options after being bullied in a local neighborhood school. Possibly you know a parent who wants to transfer their child to another public school in their district. Regardless, this handbook gives an overview of all scenarios mentioned above. Please share this resource with other parents or use it to address your own situation.

Let’s seek better options together!

Click  here to download a copy of GCO’s School Choice Handbook.

School Choice Advocacy Training Blog Contest Winner!

Inspired by the School Choice Advocacy Training, Rae Harkness submitted the following for our blog contest:

DeKalb parent of two charter school students

DeKalb parent of two charter school students

We are living in our own little spheres of influence – we interact with teachers, administrators, parents, coworkers, neighbors and our children. Through social media, school choice advocates have the potential to connect these spheres of influence and our message will reverberate throughout the state of Georgia and become amplified in the ears of our legislators. The message is this: “Each child in the state of Georgia is unique and is destined to succeed when options are available to meet their educational needs. We will not rest until each child has available a great school of choice!”

Continuing the School Choice movement through hands on training

The school choice advocacy trainings in Atlanta and Macon were amazing. It was great seeing people from across Georgia interested in learning more about how to support choice options such as charter schools, tax credit scholarships, public school transfers, and special needs scholarships. In Atlanta, many advocates wanted to learn more so they can tell their friends and community members about how to take advantage of these opportunities.

One advocate went as far to text her friend about the special needs program while in training. In Macon, advocates shared a common desire for students in rural areas of Georgia to dream beyond the possibilities that they currently see. They believed that expanding choice options through charters would help with this. To their surprise, there were three participants who recently submitted charter applications to do just that.


Taken from the session in Atlanta, GA

Yes, I can go on about having Rep. Morgan there who encouraged participants to speak to their legislators and how the voice of the constituent makes all the difference. I can even brag about how our training in Macon was at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame and included Pastor Tony Lowden, a commissioner from the Georgia Charter Schools Commission.  But nothing beats having parents, grandparents, college students, and other community members who sacrificed their time to learn about choice and how to use their voice in this growing movement. I was excited to learn more about why school choice matters to them…. because our children do.

As GCO goes out into communities to hear more stories, I hope we begin to write new ones together for the sake of all students across Georgia, particularly those in urban and rural communities such as those represented by our participants.