FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Seth Coleman
December 14, 2009 Director of Communications
U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan Visits Atlanta’s Tech High
Charter high school was Sec. Duncan’s first local stop on his “Listening and Learning” tour
Tech High Principal Elisa Falco (far left) listens as U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (far right) introduces U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (second from right).
ATLANTA – U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan repeated his support of charter schools as part of the answer to addressing the shortfalls of our nation’s public education system, during his visit to Tech High – Atlanta’s only charter high school – on Monday.
The visit was part of Sec. Duncan’s national tour titled “Listening and Learning: A Conversation About School Reform.” The roundtable discussion featured more than 20 education, business and community leaders, as well as parents and teachers.
Duncan supports equitable funding of charter schools
Sec. Duncan lauded Tech High, which has a graduation rate of more than 95 percent even with a high percentage of poor students, as an example of a quality school. In other references to charter schools, Sec. Duncan:
- Said there “should be a high bar of accountability” for charter schools.
- Stressed the point that “charter schools are public schools.”
- Emphasized that “charter schools should get to the penny what other [traditional] public schools get. Not more, but not less.”
- Wants charter schools and districts to work closer together. “Districts have been scared and felt threatened [by charter schools]. Charter schools have been reluctant to share [successful initiatives]. I think districts can learn from charter schools and charter schools can learn from districts.”
- Advocated for school choice. “It has been my experience that what works for rich students works for poor students, too. Rich students have had a choice to find what works best for them. Poor students should have choices as well.”
GCSA applauds Duncan’s comments
Georgia Charter Schools Association Chief Executive Officer Tony Roberts, Ph.D. agreed with the secretary.
“Secretary Duncan stated today that ‘charter schools should not be funded even one dollar less than other public schools. That probably came as unwelcome words for the predominately school district supporting attendees,” Roberts said. “He further stated that “charter schools should be praised and imitated for their results of raising students’ achievement levels who are sometimes two or more grades behind. Although these schools may not be meeting the goals set forth in ‘No Child Left Behind,’ in the strictest sense, they are providing a great service to students who are behind and should not be penalized. We wholeheartedly agree with the Secretary and are glad he brought this message to Atlanta.”
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ABOUT THE GCSA
The Georgia Charter Schools Association is the nonprofit membership organization for Georgia’s charter school operators and petitioners, established in 2001. The mission of the GCSA is to be an effective advocate and service provider for all charter public schools in Georgia by:
- Advancing awareness of charter schools and their mission.
- Increasing awareness that charter schools are public schools.
- Communicating charter school needs to state and local officials.
- Supporting legislation to strengthen charter schools in Georgia.
- Facilitating opportunities for networking/collaboration among charter schools in Georgia and nationwide.
- Developing and implementing programs and services that advance student achievement, accountability and success in all of Georgia’s charter schools.