Is a charter school the answer?

Mt. Zion Christian Academy recently closed its doors after 38 years, leaving Clayton parents who prefer a private school education with few alternatives other than the traditional public school education.

One option for those parents is charter schools. However, the only two in Clayton to make AYP in 2009 are: Unidos Dual Language Charter School and Lewis Academy of Excellence

At least half of all instruction is taught in Spanish at Unidos for all grade levels. “We have a balanced population of native English and native Spanish speaking students and the goal is for them all to be able to read, write and speak both Spanish and English by the time they finish fifth grade,” says dual-language coordinator Dell Perry Giles. Enrollment is currently closed, but parents interested in getting their child on the waiting list must first attend an Informational Session. The next one is scheduled for July 30th – call 404-361-3494 for more.

Lewis Academy specializes in Reading and Developing Leaders/Character, where 91% of students exceed reading levels according to CEO Dr. Patricia Lewis. “It is my understanding that our CRCT Reading scores for third, fourth and fifth grade were the highest among all 50 Clayton County Schools,” says Lewis. This school is expanding and still accepting applications for the 2009-2010 school year.

A new state charter school emerging in Riverdale is Scholars Academy, also currently accepting applications for grades K-5. Recently featured in the July issue of the Atlanta Tribune as a Clayton County business on the rise, the school theme is “Global Education” focusing on environmental science, multicultural studies and English/Spanish studies. “Scholars Academy understands that every child has his or her own unique learning methodology and with professional instruction and guidance, each child can gain a greater learning experience,” says Director/Principal Elsa Celestine. Call 770-756-9710 or email scholarsacademycs@yahoo.com for more.

The difference between these schools is that Lewis and Unidos are locally funded charter schools backed by our Board of Education. Scholars is a state charter and while still considered a public school, it depends on student enrollment and public support to succeed.

Does your child attend one of Clayton’s charter schools? Would you consider charter schools as a viable option for educating your child?

52 comments Add your comment

ann price

July 27th, 2009
3:35 pm

I am glad that someone is talking about charters as an alternative for parents in Clayton County. From what I know about Charters, they are out-performing regular public schools. Please keep this conversation going so that others will be informed. Thanks, Ann

Clayton Parent

July 27th, 2009
4:19 pm

My kids attend Unidos and I am very pleased with the school. They both attended private schools before transferring, but I found the dual language curriculum very attractive. They both are doing exceptionally well and I am hoping the school will extend to middle grades.

For those parents looking for alternatives, I encourage you to attend one of our open house sessions. I don’t know much about Lewis Academy, but I have heard great things about that school as well.

All About Accountability

July 27th, 2009
7:18 pm

Parents should be very careful with any Clayton County Public School. It is not unusual for students to graduate with a 3.8 or even a 4.0 grade point average, but with low ACT and SAT scores. If you go back and read the SACS report, it essentially says that Clayton students are not learning and that the Board and the district need to focus on student achievement. Listen to the Board chairperson’s language now. She speaks almost exclusively about student achievement. That is primarily because for years, even now, there is not much teaching and learning going on in Clayton County Schools. Parents tend to mistake “A’s” for achievement. That is NOT a true indicator of achievement in Clayton, just look at the number of students who make A’s, yet can’t pass an End of Course Test for a course they just took. Please don’t take my word for this. Go and read the SACS report; look at standardized test scores; review the number of students who must take remedial courses in college; look at the number of students who lose the HOPE scholarship after their first year of college; etc. What I am absolutely grateful for is that President Obama and even African American leaders are beginning to recognize that it is NOT some white conspiracy that is denying children a quality education in urban schools. Rather, it is adults who look just like them who are responsible. In my mind, there are folks in Clayton who should be jailed as a result of the thousands of lives they have destroyed because they have opted to use the school district as a jobs program. The question is, will the new superintendent change the culture of will he do as other superintendents have done, and that is to become complicit in what I believe is criminal behavior against our children. Again, just read the SACS report, especially the section that speaks about “a generation of children” having gone through a school system that has failed to educate them. If you are not crying (as I was) after reading it, then you simply don’t grasp the gravity of what has occurred.

Out of Work Mom

July 27th, 2009
7:44 pm

Scholars Academy State Elementary in Riverdale was denied Charter Status due to academic and enrollment issues by Sonny’s Charter Commission. We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. Clayton’s Commission Chair and Delegation destroyed the School by handing it over to Sonny. Make them pay for your children “Private School”!

trell

July 27th, 2009
8:36 pm

I think charter schools are great. My son will be attending Lewis Academy of Excellence this year. Dr. Lewis is a wonderful woman, and I look foward to working with her this school year.

Lewis Academy Mom

July 27th, 2009
8:46 pm

My son will be attending Lewis Academy this year, I am glad the Lord led to switch him. Dr. Lewis is a wonderful person and I look foward to working with her this school year.

School Reform Act

July 27th, 2009
10:41 pm

Hey! All About Accountability, your people are the majority represented at the the School’s Administration Building; yet the major minority of the population! Sound like you folk are getting all the “Big Money Jobs” and your kids are getting jobs in the system also. This is the exact act that caused the school’s credential loss! Some people don’t want to give up power after all those years, namely 400. Us folk know that!

oldtimer

July 27th, 2009
10:56 pm

To: All about accountability…….
You are so correct! That is why many of us left black, white, and other. If we held accountability standards we were cooerced to lied abou grades,

Let's be real

July 27th, 2009
10:59 pm

If there is any lack of student achievement happening in Clayton it almost inevitably can be traced back to a lack of support for the classroom teacher. Lack of support in terms of dealing with chronically disruptive students, and lack of support for teachers when they try to give the students the grades they have earned.

Despite the blather from the current and former teachers on the board about the focus on student achievement, you simply can not have a focus in the midst of chaos, and chaos is what you have when you don’t address discipline.

The current and former teachers on this board know this all too well, yet can anybody point to a single policy or proposal this board has implemented that has lead to a direct, tangible effect on supporting the teacher in the classroom?

If you can’t, then let’s be real. The BOE is pretending.

All About Accountability

July 28th, 2009
7:51 am

Out of Work Mom,

You are on the right path. I think we should sue the school district and individual board members (the previous board) for damages. In fact, I think it is such a no-brainer that I am surprised that some young attorney has not taken the case. For evidence, we have the SACS actions against the district; a report that states there is little teaching or learning going on; actions by the board; poor test scores despite a half billion dollar budget; etc. We also have hundreds of articles from newspapers. We could even allow the court to move the trial to another jurisdiction, which would further guarantee a win in court. EVERYBODY outside of Clayton understands how bad the school district is. As taxpayers, we are paying anyway. Why not request our per pupil expenditure and use it was we wish. Those who believe in Clayton can keep their children in crappy schools, and those of us who want to leave, can do so.

ann price

July 28th, 2009
7:53 am

The comment from the out of work mom is a bit skewed at best. Pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 20-2-2060, (the“Charter Schools Act of 1998”) Scholars Academy was approved by the GA State Board of Education as a state charter public school in 2008. The charter petition for Scholars Academy was already approved and has not been denied as an active public charter school in Clayton County. I attended an information and registration session just last night at the Rhodenhizer Complex and it was standing room only. Parents were engaged and wanted to know about this Expeditionary Learning School for grades K-5 – a highly successful program that is being offered in other areas of the state but not in Clayton County. As the article states, Scholars Academy is the only charter in Clayton that does not receive local funding. It is indeed, “the little engine that could”. If the “out of work mom” would have attended last night’s meeting, then maybe she would have been better versed in her comments.

Lovejoy parent

July 28th, 2009
9:29 am

Thank you for this article. My child starts kindergarten in two years and we’re already thinking about schools and deciding if we’d just pay for private or try a charter. We’ve heard good things about Unidos and are seriously considering them, hopefully we can get on the waiting list early and hopefully it will be doing even better in two years. We are watching these discussions to hear opinions from others so if you have any kids at Unidos or ever have please say something we would appreciate it!

corey

July 28th, 2009
11:49 am

Lewis academy is not what you think it is. All Dr. Lewis cares about is beating the public schools in CRCT test scores. To my knowledge that will not teach children anything. I took my children out of that school and moved them to a better school district.

Clayton Parent

July 28th, 2009
11:55 am

@ All about Accountability,
Parents should be careful and engaged with “any and every school” not just Clayton County. I too read the report and recall all the things you have referenced. I find it ironic that you speak about the accountability of the schools, the school system and the school board. What about the accountability of the parents? After reading the report I was disheartened and angry (pissed) as well. NOT so much at the school board or teachers, but the PARENTS! There is no way that “my” kids would ever get through high school (straight A’s or not) without being able to pass a standardized test. Assessments are given multiple times during the year, so I’m sure that failing graduation tests or flunking out of college was not the first indicators that students were not learning. If the parents were consistently involved and demanded more of teachers, schools and school system, then poor student achievement would not even be a factor. Sue the school system and board members? Sue the parents for letting this happen!

Back to the original conversation, Charter Schools are new to the county, a new option for parents. I appreciate Kimberly for highlighting this alternative. Unfortunately, we cannot do anything for the lost generation cited in the SACS report, but we can turn over a new leaf for the next generation. What I like best about charter schools is that parental involvement is MUST. The school will not progress without it. Find a successful charter school, and you’ll find a strong coalition of dedicated parents, teachers, administrators and community members. Research shows that students thrive academically and socially when these key elements are in place.

You are right, there are some of us that chose to keep our children here in the county, but don’t assume the decision was made recklessly by suggesting we settle for crappy schools. No, straight A’s are not true indicators of students achievement. However, scoring on standardized tested in the 90th percentile nationally, reading two or three grade levels higher and thriving in a nurturing educational environment are the true indicators. That’s just what my kids have experienced at their Clayton County Charter School. So, until I see otherwise, I’ll continue to support my school.

HamptonRoads...

July 28th, 2009
12:57 pm

Starting next month, we will be home-schooling our son for at least the next three years. We’re all excited. I will not have my son going to a government school to be a thug-in-training. We’re taking responsibility for our child’s education.

We tried getting into one of the charter schools, but didn’t make the lottery this time…

Concerned Parent

July 28th, 2009
1:38 pm

I have a daughter that attends Lewis Academy, the academics are so much better than other schools in Clayton county. I would not transfer her from there. My son has started the 7th Grade at Elite Scholars Academy which is Clayton’s newest charter school. He loves it. He is taking all honors classes along with Latin. I was more than thrilled to remove him from Pointe South Middle where he attended the 6th grade with a first year college reading level and not being pushed to his full potential. When my son was in the 1st grade at Brown elementary I found out that he was being sent to the 3rd grade reading class after I came up there unannounced. It makes me ask what happened to the teachers keeping in touch with parents. Don’t get me wrong there are those teachers that really try, however I have ran across more than a few in CCPS that are so overworked due to overcrowding where the child’s best interest is not served and the parents are rarely informed. I pride myself in being a parent who takes interest in their child’s education, however it is much easier when they are at a school where the teachers strive as hard to keep the parent informed. I make it a point to visit my children’s school’s unannounced to see how they are being educated. So far the charter school’s are the best I’ve seen available.

Clayton Parent

July 28th, 2009
2:02 pm

HamptonRoads,
Are you referring to the Elite Scholars Charter School? If so, what was your impression of the school? It’s very new to the county and I’m just curious.

Clayton Parent & Teacher

July 28th, 2009
5:21 pm

I have lived here in Clayton County for 4 years. I moved from the City of Cleveland, OH which was the poorest city in the U.S. at the time. Over 800 teachers and 500 administrators were laid off and coming to Georgia to teach was a dream come true. Charter Schools in Ohio are the norm to the public education arena. I highly support the idea of stepping outside of the box to reach students in a vast and dynamic ways.
I am proud to say my children will be attending Scholars Academy this 2009-2010 school year. I know that my children will enjoy the core design principles of Scholars Academy which are:
The Primacy Of Self-Discovery
The Having Of Wonderful Ideas
The Responsibility For Learning
Empathy And Caring
Success And Failure
Collaboration And Competition
Diversity And Inclusion
The Natural World
Service And Compassion
Solitude And Reflection
Scholars has also created great partnerships with Georgia Project WET, look at gaprojectwet.org for more information. Spanish is taught by an Spanish instructor within the classroom on a weekly basis. There is a new performing art program, as well as a musical program where my children will be able to play the violin.
Each teacher has the ability to loop with their students which mean less miss understandings and discipline issues. Looping means that the students will move on to the next grade with the same teacher from the previous grade. Scholars Academy is on the right track! As a community we need to support Scholars Academy. It is easy to criticize others, but the true question is, what are you doing to contribute in a positive way to the betterment of your child’s education? My answer is that I whole heartedly support Scholars Academy and offer all of my talents to its success. Contact Scholars Academy if you have a need to express your ability to support this great movement in the right direction. Go! Scholars Academy Go!

Clayton Parent & Teacher

July 28th, 2009
5:26 pm

I have lived here in Clayton County for 4 years. I moved from the City of Cleveland, OH which was the poorest city in the U.S. at the time. Over 800 teachers and 500 administrators were laid off and coming to Georgia to teach was a dream come true. Charter Schools in Ohio are the norm to the public education arena. I highly support the idea of stepping outside of the box to reach students in a vast and dynamic ways.
I am proud to say my children will be attending Scholars Academy this 2009-2010 school year. I know that my children will enjoy the core design principles of Scholars Academy which are:
The Primacy Of Self-Discovery
The Having Of Wonderful Ideas
The Responsibility For Learning
Empathy And Caring
Success And Failure
Collaboration And Competition
Diversity And Inclusion
The Natural World
Service And Compassion
Solitude And Reflection
Scholars has also created great partnerships with Georgia Project WET, look at gaprojectwet.org for more information. Spanish is taught by a Spanish instructor within the classroom on a weekly basis. There is a new performing art program, as well as a musical program where my children will be able to play the violin.
Each teacher has the ability to loop with their students which mean less miss understandings and discipline issues. Looping means that the students will move on to the next grade with the same teacher from the previous grade. Scholars Academy is on the right track! As a community we need to support Scholars Academy. It is easy to criticize others, but the true question is, what are you doing to contribute in a positive way to the betterment of your child’s education? My answer is that I whole heartedly support Scholars Academy and offer all of my talents to its success. Contact Scholars Academy if you have a need to express your ability to support this great movement in the right direction.

Black Rain

July 28th, 2009
5:54 pm

Charter schools are a part of the CCPS system. The fact they are “charter schools” allow them to try different ways of teaching. If successful, those could then be implemented into the regular school system. With several charters in our system – hopefully we can all benefit from their work.

Clayton Taxpayer

July 28th, 2009
7:51 pm

I think Charter schools are a great idea and I agree that hopefully, the entire district can improve from their work. Charter schools work because they can limit their class size, they have control over their schedule, discipline, and curricula (unlike like regular schools). They should work. They are not subject to the bureaucratic controls of the neighborhood schools. Again, they should work. If all schools were allowed to function with the same degree of freedom, you would see many more schools achieving. I am waiting to see what Dr. Heatley is about. He comes from a district that gave schools a lot of freedom. We will see if this will be the case in Clayton.

On another note, when I first started teaching high school in Clayton 5 years ago, I had 12 parents show up on Open House night out of 150 students on my roll. I knew then I had a challenge on my hands. Parents PLEASE become more involved. Please do not be deceived by the media that wants to put it ALL on the teachers and the kids. I will be the first to admit that CCPS has A LOT of work to do. However, if you really look at why certain school districts are successful is has everything to do with parental involvment and parents DEMANDING a certain level of education. This is not the case in Clayton! If you really want to see a better school system GET INVOLVED! Based on what we have been through the past several years our PTSA memberships should be off the charts elementary through high school! It takes the whole community to build good schools. EVERYONE has to do their part.

Act Now

July 28th, 2009
8:36 pm

Clayton’s Charter Schools are quickly going the way of the public school. You can’t improve a school if your administration is nothing but a bunch back stabbing yellow back cowards who allow certain students and their parents to get away with any and everything. Also make stupid decisions to try and make themselves look good in the process. Remove the so-called leadership mess and then guest what there is a school.

Cause & Effect

July 28th, 2009
8:38 pm

The Charter Schools will soon become overcrowded. Discipline with student and parent accountability are major issues. I have actually seen principals work through students to set a teacher up with the assistance of parents. There are obviously so many misplaced priorities at the top of the list in many schools, that it is who’s guess where to start patching leaks. The educational culture in Georgia is absolutely outrageous and just plain old terrible. Is it any wonder that students behave, and achieve at the levels that they do? If parents knew what really occurred in schools, they would have a totally different view of the educative process in its entirety. It goes so much more farther than they are able to see, and it all impacts the learning of their child.

New Day

July 28th, 2009
8:42 pm

Clayton’s Public Schools will improve. It is not that I do not believe White, female teachers can and do not successfully teach many minority students; I believe efforts should be made to reach more minority students. In my opinion and from my experiences, as a nation, we are discriminating against the poor and ethnic population of students in many inscrutable ways: GPA requirements for college or scholarships, underrepresented ethnic groups among teachers, racially biased textbooks, no standardized curriculum, no support for borderline students (students who are very low academically, but do not qualify for special education), some teachers and campus police officers who are racist, testing newly immigrated students in English, etc.
The changes in society that have led me to the conclusion that the education system must be challenged are many. The one that I witness on a daily basis is the growing number of ethnically and culturally diverse students taught by mostly the same type of teacher who taught me in the fifties, my daughter in the seventies, and now my grandchildren – White, middle to upper middle class women.

oldtimer

July 28th, 2009
9:01 pm

Charter schools are a good idea, as are magnet schools. If I had kids now, I would home school…this from a retired teacher! public schools are poor. The books are anti American and multiclutural. They fail to teach critical thinking and economic thought.

Yeah right

July 28th, 2009
9:45 pm

Are you kidding me about the no support for borderline students who are low academically stuff? what do you call “No Child Left Behind”? That has messed up public school education in a big way since all classes are held back for not only those who have trouble learning (which is justified) but those who flat out don’t wanna learn just taking up classroom space and teacher’s time and I am sorry but kids who can’t speak english need to learn to do so on their own time and dime.

I love the charter school idea because aside from a unique curriculum if run well it forces a child and his/her parents to get involved and either sink or swim unlike the average public school. We don’t have kids yet but when we do I will work an extra job to keep them out of the Georgia public school system since it’s obvious education is not a priority here and that’s not only in Clayton.

phani

July 29th, 2009
7:53 am

Let’s face it! Complaining never got anybody anywhere – only cold hard facts motivated by action gets results. We can complain and murmur to the disadvantage of our children or we can get out there and support charters like Scholars Academy. And, to the “out of work mom” that identified Scholars as being located in Riverdale – was there some covert reason for emphasizing that?! The school has a marvelous program but without much funding, it has to start somewhere. Do you not realize that many of our most prominent academic institutions today are surrounded by working class neighborhoods? Please let this blog be about our children’s education and not about race or personal ideologies.

Hey, New Day...

July 29th, 2009
8:52 am

Why is it that white women can’t teach ethnically diverse children?
You and people like you are half of the problem.
Anyone who actually wants to learn can…..it won’t be easy with a grandmother like you telling them all about thow they are different and that mean old whitey is trying to hold them back.
Get over yourself.
Maybe if you encouraged your children, grandchildren, etc. to learn instead of to whine about why the teacher doesn’t look like them, then they could have learned enough to go to, and graduate from college. Then they could go back to CCPS and teach poor little ethnically diverse kids to shut people like you the h3ll up!
If your parents are involved in your education, and actually hold you accountable, you WILL learn. Unless of course you are just stupid….and I can’t change that.

Clayton Parent

July 29th, 2009
9:09 am

I honestly don’t think it’s matters what race the teachers are. I grew up here in Georgia (Atlanta Public Schools) and I had white and black teachers. The ones I considered the best and most effective, were the ones with a passion for teaching.

Yeah, right

July 29th, 2009
9:54 am

A teacher’s race absolutey does not matter, if you tell your child that you’re setting him or her up for failure. What matters is teachers desire to teach, a student’s desire to learn and a parent’s desire to assist in any way possible and make that happen. All these factors combined create the best students and those who really want to succeed will make it happen without all these factors in place. While I’m nervous about public school education in general, I’d send my kid to a charter school before I”d ever send them to a regular public school.

Clayton Parent & Teacher

July 29th, 2009
2:04 pm

As a teacher I’ve worked with students within the EBD (Emotional Behavior Disorder) setting as well as regular education. I found the root to the problem students exists within the home environment. The child is being neglected in one form of another. Most parents love their children, but can’t sometimes give them everything they need, because you can’t give what you don’t have. This attitude and dysfunction is brought into the classroom with low self-esteem that blossom into the child thinking more negatively about themselves and others.
Teachers who feed into the negative behavior only help it to grow (the color of the teacher does not matter, the ability of the teacher to show mature love and understanding does matter). When you respond with love, understanding, and respect the child in return replaces the bitterness with kindness. Children are the representation of their environment. More parents working out of the household to take of their family is understandable. Parents need to understand that children need mature love and security. I had to learn what that was so that I could give it first to myself, then to my family, and to other students in my classroom.
Generation after generation there has been a breakdown in communicating mature love. Every nation rises and falls by the strengths or weaknesses of the family structure. If the jobs that parents worked at understood how important the role as a parent truly was, it would make it a priority for parents to spend a certain amount of time in their child’s school without penalties. Our society is built around making MONEY, and not preserving our family units. When will this change or will it ever change? As a teacher I try to educate my parents in a positive way on how to support their child as I support the parent in any way that I can. Teachers are only human; PARENTS are the child’s FIRST TEACHER. As the African Proverb says: It takes a village to raise a child. So misbehavior is a reflection of all adults not doing their part to support children’s needs. How can we address this cycle of madness. Scholars Academy has implemented a behavior system that addresses behavior on a positive note. Instead of children starting out good in the beginning of the day and progressively going down with rules being broken throughout the day, students only go up on the chart for making good decisions. When you focus on the positive, you get positive outcomes. Children need your support to be the best that they can be; they are a reflection of all of us!

Clayton Special Teacher

July 29th, 2009
2:20 pm

It does take a village to raise a child. Scholars Academy does meet the challenges of every child’s needs. Scholars Academy has my support and we count on you to give your support. Not only should good character be taught in schools, but exemplifying those characteristics personally. So that we can encourage students to do what we do, not just what we say.

Pogroms

July 29th, 2009
8:36 pm

Charter Schools in Clayton maybe, if chauvinism was nonexistent. An interesting book I read says kids with a poverty mindset have a hard buying into the “promise” of education, because those they have seen with power (while young) have rarely benefited from education. Poverty mindsets live in survival mode, so they usually see relationships, hip-hop, and entertainment as far more important than planning (after all, when you live from paycheck to paycheck, it is difficult to plan). It is little wonder the poverty mindset struggles in school. After all, school is about long term goals, planning, and future self–something with which these kids have had little contact. So when I scold one of my free and reduced kids and he makes a joke out of it, I know it is survival instinct kicking in. I also know it is my responsibility to teach him why that mode doesn’t work in school, and most importantly, how to find success in school.

What you deserve

July 29th, 2009
10:39 pm

Your new board is comprised of current and former teachers who know first hand that the single most important thing CCPS could do is is address the lack of support for teachers in matters of discipline.

The community, by now, should be painfully aware of this. Yet have you held them accountable for the fact that they haven’t come up with a single policy that has had a direct tangible effect on the ability of teachers to have more support for discipline?

Of course you haven’t. And that is why you are getting, everything you fully and richly deserve.

phani

July 30th, 2009
7:22 am

The article asks, “Is a Charter School the Answer”? Some of the comments on this blog refer to “at risk” kids and their interest in getting an education. It seems that people who have no idea about charter schools are making many of the comments on this blog. That is why I am glad that Ms. Allen wrote this article. If we don’t know about something then how can we speak intelligently about it? I would like to inform “Pogroms” that his/her method of “scolding” a student about free lunch seems rather self righteous and maybe that is why they were not taken seriously. “Pogroms”, though you say you are an educator, it appears that it is you who are in need of an education. Are you aware of the University Community Academy, a charter school in Atlanta that continues to be one of Georgia’s highest performing Title I schools – those with significant numbers of students living in poverty. Just like schools in Gwinnet, Cobb and Sandy Springs, UCA is a “Distinguished” school. Though nearly 80 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced price lunch, this school has made AYP for the sixth consecutive year. Let’s not make free lunch the focus because as this charter school proves ALL KIDS CAN LEARN and can get a good education if it is available. Charters are doing just that!

Clayton Parent

July 30th, 2009
10:34 am

Thanks for the post Phani. I too was wondering what the heck free/reduced lunch had to do with choosing a good Charter School?????

oldtimer

July 30th, 2009
4:02 pm

Good charter schools is a good answer; also magnet schools. Another idea with a proven track record…choice. Parents ought to be able to choose the best school for their children..across county lines, private, charter, magnet, or even public!Then all schools will improve. The family’s state money ought to go what they choose as best.

Very involved parent

July 30th, 2009
4:53 pm

I am a former parent of Scholars Academy and my child will not be returning next year. I believe the school is still very new and has a lot of road blocks that may diminish after being in existence for a while. I recommend for parents interested in this school to volunteer before switching because you don’t want to put your child in a school on a goal that may not be obtainable during the first few years of existence. I would not recommend this school to any parent whose child is entering into the critical grades due to instability. I believe the schools need to reevaluate their goals and try for baby steps before promising parents this elaborate picture. Due to the low enrollment last year the school will not receive a lot of funds that it had hoped for unless the parents step up to make a difference. As a parent is you are not already working closely with your child’s school, then you have no room to criticize on how the school operates. There are regular scheduled school board meeting and less than 10% of the parents show for support and less than 5% at school meetings. Change with Clayton County School system isn’t gonna start until us parents get off pour butts and make a difference at the level where it counts. We can ask for them to pay for private schools, but the same issues will come about until us parents start making investments in our own children’s educations. So if you want to make a change start by participating in your child’s school and then you will truly start seeing a difference.

kallen

July 30th, 2009
5:14 pm

I believe “Very involved parent” might be referring to the “ELITE Scholars Academy”? This charter school is already in existence.

The new charter “Scholars Academy” mentioned in my article is a brand new school which will open on August 10. They have similar names and should not be confused.

Opine

July 30th, 2009
8:32 pm

Scholars Academy State Elementary in Riverdale was denied Charter Status due to academic and enrollment issues by Sonny’s Charter Commission to approve the request? That means no State funding. However, charter schools in Norcross and Statesboro was approved! For having lived long, I have experienced many instances of being obliged, by better information or fuller consideration, to change opinions, even on important subjects, which I once thought right but found to be otherwise. Powerful people in Clayton sold temporarily education to the Gov for legislation and lost. 158 others counties said no. Who suffered? The least of these Lil black kids, to the tune of 44M in educational funding.

Thinking

July 30th, 2009
9:53 pm

The CRCT testing was strictly adhered to as it was in all the other public schools. Perhaps it is the fact that schools in Atlanta City and Dekalb were found to be in violation, but inquiring minds would like to know who supervised the administration of these tests.

Clayton Parent

July 31st, 2009
9:13 am

Kimberly,
The ELITE Scholars academy is new. They started their inaugural class this summer (it’s a year round school). Scholars academy opened last year. Their charter was denied by Clayton County, but it was approved as a state charter school. I only know this because I have been following Elite Scholars Academy since before their charter was approved.

kallen

July 31st, 2009
10:34 am

I have asked a “Scholars Academy” representative to come onto the blog and clarify these points.

Clayton Parent

July 31st, 2009
10:36 am

Thanks Kimberly.

Scholars Academy Representative

July 31st, 2009
12:21 pm

Scholars Academy still has a charter which was issued by the Georgia State Board of Education in 2008. We have four more years before we are up for renewal.

Like any number of new ventures, our first year was admittedly a rocky one. The major challenge we faced in 2008 was funding in a very shaky economy. In addition, in Clayton County, because of Accreditation and school board issues, Scholars Academy was among all the schools in Clayton County, which experienced an enormous backlash from all the negative attention. It was to say the least, a very tenuous atmosphere for our fledgling new state charter school. Also, what you may not understand that as a state charter school, Scholars does not receive local funding or support like Unodos or Lewis Academy. These charters have access to the billions of dollars allocated by our local school board. Yet, despite all of the challenges we faced in our first year, Scholars Academy brought an educational program to Clayton County’s children that is necessary. If allowed to blossom, the academic program at Scholars will make all the difference in the world for many students that continue to fall through the cracks or those children who need a more innovative approach to learning.

In June 2009, we petitioned the newly developed GA State Charter School Commission in order to receive needed funding but it was denied for reasons that related to the level of enrollment needed in our first year. We are fully aware of the concerns expressed by the Commission and are addressing all of them. However, the need and parental desire for quality educational options in Clayton County remains high, as indicated by the huge turnout at our information session Monday evening at the Rhodenhizer Complex. The parent response was overwhelming. The Scholars Academy teachers and administration were there in full-force for the two-hour meeting, which was well received by parents.

Such a strong display of parent support shows that Clayton County parents do care about their children’s educational needs. Charter schools are extremely successful when parents and the community support them. Clayton County is no different, it will take our commitment to providing our children with the best education possible – and we owe it to them. The Scholars Academy administrators, faculty, staff, students, and parents are committed to continuing our journey toward excellence. Anyone who shares our passion and dedication to student achievement is wholeheartedly welcome to join us.

Lastly, I would like to mention that state charters like Scholars Academy are mandated – as part of the Charter Agreement with the Georgia Department of Education – to meet the same performance and testing standards as regular public schools so parents need not be concerned about the level of education that their child will receive at Scholars Academy. In fact, Expeditionary Learning Schools have been successful at providing high quality education both in Georgia and across the nation.

Thinking, but not critically

July 31st, 2009
12:37 pm

Thinking, if you really think that CRCTtesting procedure was strictly adhered in all public schools with the exception of the few mentioned in the AJC then you really aren’t thinking; you’re hoping.

Even the AJC mentioned 50 other schools whose standard deviation in test scores was of a factor that would be best explained by cheating.

Do like Neo and take the red pill, then get back to us on that.

Very Invovled Parent

July 31st, 2009
12:37 pm

No, “Kallen” I am correct when I stated Scholars Academy, this school started last fall, Elite Scholars Academy started this summer. “Opine” Scholars Academy is a state charter school and did receive some state funding. I am not sure how much funding they will receive for this upcoming school year. I do know they are in need of parent support and an increase in enrollment in order for them to remain in existence.

All about progress

July 31st, 2009
12:54 pm

Yea for Scholars Academy!!! To the out-of-work mom that speaks negatively of Scholars, unless you know more about what is actually going on within the walls of Scholars, please be a little more hesitant to speak. I attended an open house this week and to have heard all about the school, from whence they started, to where they are now, to see and hear the dedicated teachers and staff, I am totally convinced that this is the up and coming school. Yes, they are on the move!!! The students that initially enrolled in the school came from other school systems, and Scholars is improving these students’ test scores, and I think that as the students and parents invest in Scholars, these results will impact the enrollment and the school status as well. We need to support each other if we are about progress.

Kudos to the school and staff for wanting to make a difference in the community.

kallen

July 31st, 2009
1:01 pm

My apologies to “Very Informed Parent” and “Clayton Parent” and thanks to “Scholars Academy Representative” for clarifying.

Interesting ...

August 1st, 2009
8:46 am

Thanks for this topic. When accreditation was taken away we took our first grader out of the public schools here assuming they were all basically the same. Maybe we can consider a charter, good info.