by Georgia Charter Schools Association
By Andrew Lewis
There are currently 80 startup charter public schools in Georgia serving more than 40,000 students across the state. Both the number of schools and the number of students enrolled in charters have been steadily increasing in the Atlanta metro area and across the state.
One number that does not get enough attention is the substantial number of children on waiting lists to attend these charter public schools. At the start of the 2014-15 school year, an estimated 12,000 students were on waiting lists to attend a charter public school in Georgia.
It’s a number that clearly indicates a demand for more charter school options.
As we approach the upcoming 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly, elected officials who support and oppose charter public schools should keep in mind the many factors driving the growth of charter public schools in Georgia, and heed the alarming growth of waiting lists across the state.
There are infinite reasons why parents are demanding more charter public schools in communities across Georgia. Some reasons are obvious — too many students languish in inadequate academic settings, and many children can benefit from a school culture or curricular approach unavailable in their traditional public school.
Other factors are less apparent. Some parents feel their children will be safer in a charter school than the school they are zoned to attend. The location of a charter public school may be more accessible to work and home. Often the charter school offers an innovative instruction model such as language immersion, STEM, or Expeditionary Learning.
At the end of the day, all of these factors are very personal. Parents want the best for their children and empowering them with K-12 public education options allows any parent to choose the school that works best for their child.
Does this mean all charter public schools are the best option for a parent and their child? Far from it. What it does mean is that the decision making on the best academic environment for a child is taken away from elected politicians and placed in the capable hands of parents.
Andrew Lewis is Executive Vice President of the Georgia Charter Schools Association
The views and opinions expressed on CharterConfidential are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any agency.