Nov. 20, 2019
ATLANTA – As the spotlight turns to Georgia during the Democratic National Debate, the American Federation for Children, GeorgiaCAN, Georgia Center for Opportunity, the Georgia Charter Schools Association and the Georgia Public Policy Foundation want to illuminate the positive impact public charter schools are having on Georgia students. Recent scores on the 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that on average Georgia charter school students scored at least 13 points above district students in both math and reading. Georgia charter schools are also bridging the gap for African-American students who scored at least 18 points higher in reading and mathematics than their district peers.
These academic gains show that public charter schools are a critical component to strengthening the overall public school system. They also have the freedom to take creative approaches and give families of all backgrounds the opportunity to send their children to a school that works for them. That is why public charter schools have enjoyed bipartisan support from Presidential administrations that include Democratic Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. It also highlights our disappointment for some of the current Democratic candidates who have adopted educational platforms that would reduce federal funding for the creation of more high-quality charter schools, which are vital to the academic success of low-income and minority students. In Georgia, we are fortunate that charter schools have enjoyed strong support from Democrat, Independent and Republican members of the General Assembly. More than 56 percent of all charter school students in our state are black or Latino, and approximately 11,000 children are currently on charter school waitlists. Now is not the time to reduce the number of vital public school options for these students.
A poll released today by Education Reform Now Advocacy and Public Policy Polling found that 83 percent of African-American voters polled in Atlanta support providing more choice within the public school system, including public charter schools. This survey is in line with recent national polls that have shown strong support for public charter schools and other school choice options among Democratic voters, particularly those of color. We are encouraged that the views of a number of other Democratic candidates align with their school choice supporters if elected President. In the meantime, we call on the Democratic candidates who have adopted anti-charter stances to reconsider their positions and to look toward Georgia as an example of where charter schools are making a difference for students that need quality public school options the most.