by Georgia Charter Schools Association
By Scarlet Hawk
Choice is a funny thing. You want to always have one in any situation, yet there is a comfort to having no responsibility for making a decision. The liberty of deciding one’s own destiny is a mature realization of independence that can be both exhilarating and intimidating. Most people take the “tried and true” approach and leave the deviation from the norm to the thrill seekers, yet few will say that having less choice is a preference.
In last weekend’s op-ed, Flipping the School Script, Kyle Wingfield made the snarky analogy of applying the limited choices of district-allocated K-12 education to college picks. If Georgia colleges and universities followed the same lead, graduation from a research institution versus a liberal arts college or a technical school would be determined entirely by location of where a child in Georgia was born. Wingfield alludes to the feigned concern of charter critics as he quips, “If these school assignments aren’t what you had hoped for, we can only feign sympathy … er, apologize.”
The critics of school choice continue to foster fear of the simple availability of school choice. There are wonderful district schools across our great state, yet Georgians voted to affirm that there also exists beauty in the ability to choose. Wingfield focuses on the absurdity of how if this model applied to other educational choices, our young people would be filtered into higher education by geography alone.
This flies in the face of the idea of Liberty and the ability to pursue self-defined growth in education.
When I was a kid growing up in Social Circle, my parents taught me that education was the great equalizer: if I worked hard in school and made good grades, there would be nothing that held me back. What I have come to realize in my adulthood is that early childhood education is paramount to a child’s success. All schools are not equal, and to pre-determine by geography where kids go to school is to limit their potential and their trajectory.
Georgia is still in the nascent stages of the school choice movement. Nevertheless, while naysayers perpetuate fear, I like to focus on hope. The fact is, that kid from Social Circle still believes that knowledge is power, and she would like to ensure that no matter whether you grew up in Ware County or off West Paces, you’ve got a chance and a host of choices here in Georgia.
“We’re paying the highest tribute you can pay a man. We trust him to do right. It’s that simple.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
Scarlet Hawk is political and government affairs consultant for state and local issues in Georgia. Originally from Social Circle, GA, she now lives and works in Atlanta