On school choice, Georgia is a model

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As Americans prepare to observe National School Choice Week next week, Georgia’s families have a lot to celebrate.

In just under a decade, Georgia has firmly established itself as one of the nation’s leading states for educational opportunity.

In fact, the state has gone from the bottom of the pack in offering school choice options to, in my opinion, one of the top five states for educational opportunity.

Within the public sector, parents have choice within the traditional public school system. Thanks to the state’s inter-district school choice policies, parents can send their kids to schools in different districts, without any additional cost.

Public charter schools flourish in Georgia, and the landscape for these free public schools looks bright – especially since voters affirmed the right of the state to authorize these independent and innovative academies.

Online learning is thriving in Georgia, too. The state is one of 29 states that have multi-district, fully online schools – completely free for students to attend.

In the private sector, Georgia has a robust scholarship tax credit program, empowering parents with scholarships – funded by individuals and corporations – to send children to private schools. This ground-breaking program is accompanied by the state’s voucher program for children with special learning needs. These programs are giving kids new hope, while saving tax dollars.

BUT ANOTHER TYPE of school choice – one not frequently talked about – also will shine brightly in Georgia and across the country: public magnet schools.

Georgia – specifically Augusta – embraces public magnet schools. These theme-based schools challenge and motivate students by encouraging them to learn all subjects, but by focusing attention on specific subjects that interest students. For example, some magnet schools focus on science and technology, attracting the next generation of engineers and inventors. Other schools focus on math, or literature, while others attract students who are interested in the performing arts.

Magnet schools deserve more attention in the broader discussion about school choice because at their core they address what is often missing from education – the encouragement and motivation to graduate.

During our National School Choice Week whistle-stop train and motor coach tour, we were honored to stop in Augusta on Thursday, which is home to several high-performing magnet schools. Our tour visited John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School, widely recognized as one of Georgia’s, and America’s, top public schools. Mayor Deke Copenhaver joined more than 40 other mayors across America in issuing a proclamation declaring Jan. 26-Feb. 1 National School Choice Week in their
cities.

DAVIDSON IS THE perfect example of the impressive transformation that has taken place in Georgia and across the country – providing that “school choice” isn’t just defined by divisive rhetoric that pits public schools against their private counterparts – but can exist, and thrive, within the public sector.

Davidson’s success – and that of so many high-performing public, charter, magnet, private and online schools across the state – is proof that when school districts and states commits themselves to providing every child with access to excellent educational options, great things happen. Students are inspired to graduate, and they’re prepared to compete for the challenging jobs of the 21st century.

If every state was like Georgia, America would have more to celebrate about its educational progress.

(The writer is president of National School Choice Week a nonpartisan, independent grassroots effort to highlight the importance of all forms of school choice for all children.)

Comments (17) Add comment
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seenitB4
87304
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seenitB4 01/24/14 - 07:02 am
2
1
School choice

Exactly what is needed my friends....but THAT didn't happen for us in the 70s..... & 80s...as the world turns & sometimes it turns too late.

Good luck..maybe someday you will find the magic answer.

ymnbde
9747
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ymnbde 01/24/14 - 07:54 am
1
0
faux choice

Macon has a good example of real choice, with
established private schools competing for students
by advertising the success of former students.
the success of former students is the only measure
that should be taken into account
perhaps the Chronicle education department could review
the success of the alumni of each school in the area?
does anyone think the results would be fair and balanced?
charter schools still have too much government involvement
and the success of bureaucrats is always more important than
the success of kids
real school choice, with parents using vouchers
so their child can attend the school of choice
just like rich people already do
is the only way to overcome the bureaucrats

Bodhisattva
6214
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Bodhisattva 01/24/14 - 09:47 am
2
4
Non-partisan? More Chronicle lies

Or did just print it straight from their propaganda press releases? Since 2000, student enrollment in Georgia's K-12 schools have increased 230,000. Since 2003, Georgia has cut core funding $5.7 billion dollars. Now along comes the corporate right wing shills that dress up as education reformers. The truth is they lobby to suck taxpayer money fro public schools and give it to private schools and corporate run "charter schools". "voters affirmed the right of the state to authorize these independent and innovative academies.?" It passed 58.5%-41.4% with wording rigged as:"Provides for improving student achievement and parental involvement through more public charter school options." Not "To use state funds to fund corporate run charter schools." which would have been the truth. It used the unproven, and actually in some studies disproven "improve student achievement". A lie. There's no proof for any such thing put who, other than those who know the facts would vote against such a thing? The "pro" group also had an almost 10 to 1 spending advantage thanks to mostly out of state money. Just Alice Walton (of WalMart-they need to suck money out of public schools so they have a minimum wage work force ready to go. It doesn't say if she got a DUI at any fund raisers or ran over anyone like she has at several other right wing shindigs. No worries though, no jail time for her.) gave $600,000, almost 3 times the total the 'con" group had to spend. K12 Solutions a "for-profit education company that sells online schooling and curriculum to state and local governments" gave $100,000. National Heritage Academies gave $25,000, owned by J.C. Huizenga, who also gave $25,000 ( a "free to the public school management system" otherwise known as paid for by local school districts, our tax dollars). Corporate owned, corporate bought, and this is just from one page of one filing period. Andrew Campanella, who was the Media Relations Manager for The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions before he got this gig. I guess Six Flags needs minimum wage workers too. Throw in the Frank Luntz, Propaganda Guru to the right wing to change the meaning of the words and make them sound better, plus big time corporate money and there you go.

Bizkit
31478
Points
Bizkit 01/24/14 - 11:37 am
1
0
The public schools in Macon

The public schools in Macon are some of the worse -most who can afford it send their kids to these expensive private schools.

Bizkit
31478
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Bizkit 01/24/14 - 11:49 am
1
0
Charter schools seem like a

Charter schools seem like a good idea, but they haven't performed as only 17% are above regular public and 37% perform worse. So another failed educational attempt to improve things. We seem to be going the wrong direction-a major problem is technology is decreasing a dependence on memory. We we have "educated" students who haven't really memorized or learned anything-just Google it if you need it.

dichotomy
33001
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dichotomy 01/24/14 - 12:44 pm
4
0
More money hasn't worked,

More money hasn't worked, nothing done in the public school system seems to have worked. Maybe we are down to the old rule of thumb that the right answer is the obvious answer. That leaves us a choice of three obvious reasons. Either we have a lot of bad teachers, we are breeding a lot of dumb students, or our school systems are totally incapable of maintaining discipline and creating an atmosphere conducive to learning in the classrooms. My guess is that it is the last one. Do something to fix that......anything else is just peeing into the wind. It doesn't require money...just some backbone and consistency....two things we seem to have lost over the last few decades.

itsanotherday1
43279
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itsanotherday1 01/24/14 - 01:45 pm
1
0
The major problem IMO is an

The major problem IMO is an almost total failure in parents staying involved with the child's education, and instilling in them a sense of how important it is.
We had college seared into our sons' brains from an early age; as if 16 years is your normal education, not 12. We had open communications with their teachers too, and generally accepted the teacher's word when things went awry. Not once when one of them complained about a teacher did we go stomping into the office demanding why they were picking on______. If we or the teacher felt it needed attention, we scheduled a meeting and calmly discussed the issues.
Needless to say, these meeting were very few over the years because the boys knew they had better not drag me into a situation where they a "fudged" the facts a little bit.

I have teachers in my family these days, and they confirm that more often than not, the kid and the parent are on the wrong side of right. Little johnny or jane can do no wrong and the parents blame the teacher for failing grades, undone homework, etc.

internationallyunknown
4211
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internationallyunknown 01/24/14 - 02:20 pm
3
0
Nothing will change in

Nothing will change in education until we change society.

countyman
20129
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countyman 01/24/14 - 02:56 pm
2
2
School choice

The next magnet high school built in the county(Southwest Augusta) should focus on math and offer sports..

CobaltGeorge
159042
Points
CobaltGeorge 01/24/14 - 03:05 pm
1
1
Education = Government

The minute that we allowed government to place a finger print on the door knob of our education system, we did nothing but strip any possibility of a decent education for our children.

My 5 sons received their first 8 years of education in military controlled schools throughout the world. Never once was Political Correctness or tolerance ever controlled their education. When I returned to the states and experience what was called public education, it didn't take me but 30 days to realize that education didn't exist. First, the government taught Liberal minded teachers, the uncontrolled classrooms, the gearing of the teaching was to students that couldn't or didn't want to learn and the demographic of the school location was an eye opener. Move to the best public schools that was recommended in Columbia County and even that, my sons found that they were ahead by 2 years in what was being taught. They never had to do home work and all graduated with many awards and honors.

This comment by dich, "Either we have a lot of bad teachers, we are breeding a lot of dumb students, or our school systems are totally incapable of maintaining discipline and creating an atmosphere conducive to learning in the classrooms" is as close to the truth that can be said.

The only place a child can become educated in todays Liberal society is in a Private school where all the BS that we are experiencing today in our education system does not exist. Period.

So, everybody who are complaining, except it, because you allowed it to happen. You can all start by getting rid of Teachers Unions and Liberal bleeding heart administrator at all levels. You can't expect a generation of uneducated parents to handle the crises of failing there children education except blaming everybody but themselves.

CobaltGeorge
159042
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CobaltGeorge 01/24/14 - 03:07 pm
1
1
countyman

How about focusing on conduct and respect. The Old Fashion Way!

CobaltGeorge
159042
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CobaltGeorge 01/24/14 - 03:20 pm
2
1
I"ll Never Forget,

in 1972, a call from the base CO reference my oldest son attending Machinato Okinawa Military school that his hair had reached the length limit.

Action taken, Picked up said son, drove to the nearest barber shop, proceeded with a basic training hair cut, no discussion, problem solved.

teaparty
11313
Points
teaparty 01/24/14 - 05:34 pm
2
1
"Nothing will change in
Unpublished

"Nothing will change in education until we change society."
I agree 100% but we have to undo what the Great Society, liberals/progressives, democrats and black leaders have done to this country.

bigj706
1182
Points
bigj706 01/24/14 - 07:18 pm
3
0
That's it teaparty keep that

That's it teaparty keep that message coming

willie7
955
Points
willie7 01/24/14 - 08:38 pm
0
0
Colbalt George is well
Unpublished

Colbalt George is well educated---I sure he attended Fox News University.
I would like for some of you to attend a public school and see what is actually going on---you may be surprised. All 8 of my children attended schools in Richmond County and each one is doing exceptionally well in life..
I am thankful for the public schools.

corgimom
32532
Points
corgimom 01/24/14 - 08:41 pm
2
1
The schools' problems have

The schools' problems have nothing to do with political parties, teacher's unions, or government control.

Parents are no longer parents, they are their child's friend and protector. They live in a child-centric home, where the child's wants and needs are always in the forefront.

When we grew up, our parents were in charge. They ran the household, and they ran it for their comfort and convenience. They didn't hover over us. They didn't need to, they taught us discipline and self-control and you knew that you had better behave yourself when they weren't around. One phone call from an adult was all it took, and parents felt embarrassed that their child was misbehaving. And they lowered the boom.

Now, parents have no problem with a child misbehaving. You see it everywhere you go, in the restaurants, in the stores, it's everywhere. People are supposed to kow tow to those ill-behaved kids, and if something bad happens, it's always the other person's fault.

And that same attitude is present with the schools and the teachers. When a teacher tells a parent that their child is misbehaving or not performing, the teacher is accused of picking on their child, being racist, not liking the child, or making it up. I can tell you this from personal experience.

When a child doesn't do his work, it's because the teacher doesn't challenge him. When they don't do their homework, it's because the teacher assigns too much. When a teacher disciplines a child for bad behavior, they threaten to sue. When a child doesn't make good grades, it's because the teacher is a bad teacher. Everybody else in the class is doing fine, but no, it's the teacher's fault that their precious little angel baby isn't the top of the class.

The child runs the household. They control the adults, not the other way around. They offer their unsolicited opinions, tell adults what to do, refuse to obey, and throw major tantrums when things don't go their way- and then they bring that attitude and behavior to school.

I know. I saw 6 1/2 years of it. And it won't change until parents change.

dahreese
4717
Points
dahreese 01/24/14 - 11:41 pm
0
3
"Either we have a lot of bad
Unpublished

"Either we have a lot of bad teachers, we are breeding a lot of dumb students, or our school systems are totally incapable of maintaining discipline and creating an atmosphere conducive to learning in the classrooms. My guess is that it is the last one."

I taught 33 years in the classroom. My five children all graduated from public schools and went to college.

One just finished a PhD.

If you critics thought it was so easy to teach, you'd have been in the classroom doing it.

Otherwise, you're just blowing out of your ears.

It is easy to criticize public education. In fact, does anyone ever recall a time when public education wasn't or hasn't been criticized?

Even when there were mostly two parents in the home.

It isn't the White House; it isn't Congress, it isn't Wall Street, it isn't the Pentagon.

Public education is the backbone of this country.

And you folks can show your own level of education and believe all the conservative BS Cobalt George is spouting if you're dumb enough to.

Darby
25694
Points
Darby 01/25/14 - 12:36 am
2
0
"In just under a decade, Georgia has firmly established

itself as one of the nation’s leading states for educational opportunity."

.
If the writer wasn't solely interested in blowing smoke up our collective you know whats, he'd have addressed the terrible graduation rates of Georgia schools and our horrific standings near the bottom when compared to the rest of the country.

Made even worse if or when you consider that the United States compares SO unfavorably to so much of the rest of the world, to include a number of "emerging" nations.

If Georgia is a "model" it may be time to break the mold and hide the pieces.

justthefacts
21926
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justthefacts 01/25/14 - 12:46 am
0
0
Tough decision

Do I believe Dahreese or my lying eyes?

Darby
25694
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Darby 01/25/14 - 12:39 pm
2
0
Given those choices, I'd say....

Trust your eyes, my friend. Every time!

Our schools are doomed unless we get away from the Soviet/socialist model of indoctrination over education.

That may NEVER happen.

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