Drew Charter: Can Atlanta afford a new high school with 6,200 empty seats in its existing schools?

Update Monday evening: Atlanta school board members voted to delay until next month a decision on Drew Charter School’s plans to expand to a high school.

The AJC news story on the opposition to Drew Charter School opening a high school neatly encapsulates the challenge of charter schools in today’s economy: In these times of decimated school budgets, should charter school expansion and purpose align with the school system’s needs, goals and finances?

For example, one of Gwinnett County’s initial objections to Ivy Preparatory Academy was that it was single-gender, which the county did not see as part of its vision. It argued that single gender schools had no proven research record of higher academic performance, and might open the system up to lawsuits.

With Drew, the point of contention is financial.

APS superintendent Erroll B. Davis is raising this question:  Can Atlanta afford to approve the opening of a new high school when it has 6,200 empty seats in its existing high schools? Is that a responsible use of tax dollars?

Some of those empty seats are at Maynard Holbrook Jackson High, down the road from where Drew would open its new high school in east Atlanta.

But the parents supporting a new Drew high school have a question of their own for Davis: Can they afford to send their kids to a high school with a long history of under performance?

Accordion to the AJC:

The objection to Drew’s expansion is notable for Atlanta Public Schools, a district more friendly than most to charter schools. But it echoes the conflict in districts across metro Atlanta, where the ambitions of charter schools are almost always at odds with traditional public schools.

The main reason? Money.

Charter schools are public schools; they’re free to students and run independently of local school boards, although they must follow state guidelines. State tax dollars follow a student from traditional schools to the charter of choice, meaning traditional schools lose money as they lose enrollment.

APS sends about 8 percent of its budget to charter schools. Enrollment in Atlanta charter schools is projected to increase next year, according to district budget documents.

Davis said Atlanta isn’t opposed to adding more charters, but says his system has too many empty seats to support a new high school. The existing Jackson High, about three miles from the proposed Drew site, expects about 876 students next year although it has space for 1,450. All told, APS has 6,200 empty seats at the high school level.

Drew’s proposed high school won’t offer anything students can’t get at a traditional high school, Davis added.

“If I were to come before the board and say ‘I’d like to build another high school,’ I’d be laughed out of the building because one of the things we made clear in the redistricting is that we have too many high schools,” he said. “The only reason I would agree to an additional high school is if it were strategically meeting a need we weren’t. And I have yet to see that.”

Drew supporters say they have built a successful program in early and middle grades and want to continue the success with a $55 million high school. Plans are to open the 200,000-square foot high school in 2013-14 with 100 freshmen and add one class per year until the school reaches 600 students in 2023.

The money will be raised by the East Lake Foundation, Drew’s primary nonprofit supporter.

“We feel like our kids are on a trajectory, if they could just continue the kind of culture, intensity and academic design we’ve started here, they would be on a path to college, success and life,” said Cynthia Kuhlman, chairwoman of the board of Drew Charter School Inc.

Atlanta has 12 independent charter schools, more than any other district in the state. But denials are not unusual: The charter school approval rate is 20 percent to 25 percent, in line with the national average, according to APS officials. The district has denied 23 charters and approved seven in the past three years.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

136 comments Add your comment

Dana Blankenhorn

June 4th, 2012
11:38 am

Wrong question, Maureen. The right question is can Drew raise graduation rates from what they are? You know APS is losing over half its ninth graders before graduation, don’t you?

What they’re trying to do is completely political. They’re trying to maintain control of failure. There is no assurance Jackson High can raise those graduation rates, even with an IB program as planned. North Atlanta, which has an excellent IB program, nevertheless has a very low graduation rate, because most kids land in the program of “Would you like fries with that?” And the same is true for Grady.

Unless you are in an APS magnet, you don’t get an education. So white kids go to private schools and black kids go to Reidsville.

Drew can change that. They deserve a chance to change that. They have a track record indicating they can change that. Their test scores are close to those of Mary Lin despite having 80% or more on subsidized lunches.

Don’t let APS define your question for you, or any other power broker. That’s journalism lesson one for today.

GFY

June 4th, 2012
11:40 am

First to say it is not about money……other insidious factors are in play with a question about whether to fund this school or not. It is green but has nothing to do with money.

Matt

June 4th, 2012
11:51 am

If Jackson High has so many empty seats, why don’t they just open up the charter school within Jackson High?

Decatur Joe

June 4th, 2012
11:54 am

Can APS afford not to? Nearly a 50% graduation rate for the district. I thought this was about student achievment? My fault, nothing APS does is about student achievment. It is about perception and dollars. Look at Beverly Hall’s motto,”give me and my administration lots of money to work with and I will give you the false perception that students are achieving”. I pray the APS BOE keeps what is best for STUDENTS in mind and approves this high achieving school’s efforts to expand to high school. But don’t count on it!

Mary Elizabeth

June 4th, 2012
11:56 am

What will happen to those the students who will be left behind in traditional public schools when public charter schools are expanded? Those students will continue to be there, whether focus is placed upon them, or not.

ELMom

June 4th, 2012
11:58 am

1. Drew’s high school won’t cost tax payers anything. In the end APS will spend LESS per pupil for students attending Drew.

2. The question should be “WHY are there 6,200 seats in APS?”. The answer? A 50% graduation rate for APS could have something to do with it. Drew graduates currently have an 80% graduation rate after entering traditional APS schools. For students who take part in Drew’s high school after school program CREW Teens the graduation rate is 94%. Parents do not remain in systems with a 50% graduation rate.

3. What can Drew offer that APS high schools do not? Let me think… a higher graduation rate, great CRCT, ITBS and SAT scores. All of which lead to better chances post high school. How about the fact that Drew is the number 1 school in the state for educating low income minority children. Drew isn’t looking too shabby in over all sate ranking either. Also no other APS high school offers project based learning. IB is not for everyone.

LR

June 4th, 2012
11:58 am

Charter schools only admit the students they think will succeed and only keep those that do so. They thus give the appearance of great success while deeply undermining the public school system.

ELMom

June 4th, 2012
12:03 pm

@LR that may be true at some charter schools (I don’t know) but not at Drew. Drew is a national model and must prove that it can get results without manipulating student population. I find comments like this disturbing because what I hear behind it is that certain children can’t learn so these schools must be screening them out.

Please take a look at this site pointing out where the Drew model has been replicated: http://www.purposebuiltcommunities.org/

Undercover private schools

June 4th, 2012
12:04 pm

We cannot continue to allow Charter schools to destroy the public school system. The only thing ‘public’ about the Charter school system is the funding. There are 6500 seats in the APS high schools and we should fill those seats before we build more schools.

Charter schools have a history of ‘recruiting and purging’ our communities of the the best and brightest students while leaving the traditional public schools the challenge of educating the rest.

LR

June 4th, 2012
12:13 pm

Clearly all children can learn, but equally clearly every student is different. To observe that is not to imply that “certain children” are not worth an investment. The problem is what @undercover private schools notes: Charter schools are a stealth private school system paid for by taxpayers that inflate their successes by cherrypicking the best students and leaving the rest to an increasingly deprived and stressed public system.

ELMom

June 4th, 2012
12:21 pm

@LR, again Drew does not cherry pick. If you have proof of cherry picking please share it. Drew serves a large low incme minority population. Many of the children come from difficult and non traditional homes. These are the very children that APS has struggled to serve for decades. The purpose of a charter school (Drew anyway) is to be an incubator for innovation. Drew’s model has been replicated accross the nation.

catlady

June 4th, 2012
12:25 pm

I think the question is, could the Drew high school change the landscape as far as the currently abysmal graduation numbers of high school students? It isn’t the “fault” of Drew that there are so many open high school seats. The folks believe they can put forward a high-achieving high school, which would certainly be a kick in the **** for those under-used high schools nearby.

It may be that APS NEEDS Drew High School, as a demo school for what the other schools should be doing. Why not consolidate th1e underused schools to save money?

Skeptic Teacher

June 4th, 2012
12:27 pm

Folks who are wholesale against charters: Please list why and provide support for your argument. I’m seriously not believing that charters “cherry-pick” students. By law, they can’t. If this were as rampant as some of you make it, there would be a long line of PO’d parents willing and waiting to share their stories of being burned by charters. I’ll give you an argument for free (but only because I’ve heard the argument with supporting details): students in charters don’t necessarily achieve higher than those in traditional school.

Before the wolves descend, let me say that my handle describes my feelings for both sides of the arguments. I’ve heard of awesome charters as well as charters run by people who shouldn’t be within a mile of students. Right now, neither side has a strong amount of research backing their arguments. I’ll close with this thought: if we are truly educators, should it matter whether we are left with “the rest” (as someone so lovingly identified the ones who are not the “best and brightest”) or not?

Chris Murphy

June 4th, 2012
12:32 pm

An important part of the AJC story was left out: state law basically says that if the charter application meets standards, it has to be granted. Drew knows how to write a charter, and therefore just on legal grounds should be granted. The charter does not have to meet “special needs” or save the district money.

Drew does not cherry-pick its students: the Villages at East Lake are tier 1 for attendance.

Drew has does a remarkable thing: it has shown a model that works for a low SES, ‘urban’ population, an effort replicated nowhere else in APS to that degree. That said, Drew’s model would be hard to replicate, as the private and foundation dollars that go into the total effort are huge. What they’ve done- and these are my words, not theirs- is replace the parents of the kids, by offering before- and after-school programs, summer programs, etc. that take the place (as best possible) of a supportive home environment. Drew has no more parental involvement than most APS schools (that is, there isn’t much), so they have forged programs to meet student needs. For instance, they try to get kids involved as soon as 3 months old! This is a heroic, encompassing, and well-planned program that should be allowed to continue its experiment. Some of its findings can and should be exported, where possible, to the ‘regular’ schools; some will be found to be just too expensive (IMO, and knowing current economic and political conditions). But, if they can handle it, let them do it.

Jackson has a tough row to hoe, as do most APS schools: low SES, and little parental involvement. The new building, new programs (IB), and new focus by the district will certainly help; middle-class parents in SE ATL are beginning to commit to the school, either because they believe their involvement will help the school, or just because they don’t have much choice (I personally have a foot in both camps). I don’t have faith in APS, but I do have faith in many of the individuals at Jackson. Jackson is also due a new principal, and that choice should have far more impact on the school than anything Drew does.

Tabitha

June 4th, 2012
12:33 pm

Quit asking what is good for the system and start asking what is good for the students. Our goal is not to perpetuate an existing system that many thinks has failed but to find better solutions for students. If you would focus on the goal of serving the students instead of maintaining the status quot for those who benefit from it, you might start to come up with better answers.

brian

June 4th, 2012
12:33 pm

The school board is bloated, corrupt and there are far too many incompetent and overpaid teachers in APS. Our public education system is a mess and broken. I know this from personal experience as a student and now as the brother of a APS teacher. It’s a joke and only those that benefit from the existing system are resistant to change.

Charter schools are an excellent alternative to this mockery of an educational system. Give parents the choice of how to use their tax dollars to educate their children. If anybody will look out for the child’s best interests, it’s the parents, not the teacher’s associations (they only look out for the teachers) or the cronies on the school board.

Bait and Switch

June 4th, 2012
12:33 pm

If Drew strictly adhered to its original mission, focused on educating the children of low income families, then it should be allowed. The problem is, you have a group of parents from EL, attempting a bait and switch. Lets be honest here, they are trying to create a private school with Georgia tax funds. Its a great school but is trending away from its original mission as a direct result of the redistricting process. They dont want to send there kids to Toomer Elementary, Coan Middle, or Jackson High.

The majority of the current applicants are not underpriveleged families, but solid middle class families who are looking to avoid the traditionally poor neighborhood schools. That is understandable, but the cost is more damage to the local traditional public schools that are making real progress.

Keep the original mission, require applicants to have a total household income of less than 50k annually, and let them expand. Focus on the kids whose parents are not involved and need this type of school. That approach will help all the kids in SE Atlanta. Stop the propaganda that the original mission is still a priority, it clearly is not.

I will add that the Toomer, Coan and Jackson need to raise there game and be able to compete as a viable alternative to private and charter schools. But seriously, there is a lot of propaganda being thrown around that this school is still intended for underpriveleged families.

LR

June 4th, 2012
12:35 pm

Whether the cherrypicking comes at the beginning of the process or at the end doesn’t matter. Even if Drew uses a lottery in its admission process, charter schools are notorious for off-loading the more-difficult and/or less-successful students. Investing public funds in a charter school system will inevitably weaken the public schools – this was one of the intentional/unintentional evils of no-child-left-behind: taking money away from failing schools. If I were starting to slide off a cliff, I’d want someone to help me by pulling me back, not give me a shove… Fix the public schools – and if the wonderfully innovative curriculum developed at a charter school is the way to do that, great – but don’t shove them off the cliff by routing resources away from the public system.

6,200 seats

June 4th, 2012
12:35 pm

If there are 6,200 empty seats, then schools should be closed down, teachers and staff should be fired and the APS should remember that they are in the business of funding EDUCATION, not funding BUILDINGS

Another Voice

June 4th, 2012
12:37 pm

@Matt – and since the planned renovations at Jackson would certainly improve the physical plant, they should definitely look at creating a school within the school. Oh, wait, could it be that the Drew Charter kids feel too special to be in the same building?

@LR

June 4th, 2012
12:40 pm

You wrote:Investing public funds in a charter school system will inevitably weaken the public schools

Who cares? The current school system should be weakened. Stop throwing good money after broken profiteering. Scrap the current model and those who benefit from it and start with something new. There’s nothing inherently good about the crap we’re seeing that should make anybody want to keep putting band-aids on it. The cartel running the show either doesn’t care or is incompetent (as evidenced by the massive failure rates). Either way, they need to be removed from power.

Missing the point

June 4th, 2012
12:42 pm

They can’t consolidate the two schools since charter schools aren’t limited to school board rules/directives.

puzzling choice

June 4th, 2012
12:47 pm

To the first comment writer, there is no longer an APS magnet system as of two years ago. Although there are aspects I very much miss, there is plenty of education going on in these non magnet schools, particularly Grady and North Atlanta. This year alone Grady wracked up considerable accolades on the National level in debate, mock trial, newspaper- none of this possible without the fantastic support and dedication of the teachers and administration. These are open to ALL students not just the few remaining magnet members- the second to last class of magnet students graduated.

dc

June 4th, 2012
12:48 pm

charter schools are destroying our schools? That’s maybe one of the stupidest statements I’ve seen on this blog. The schools were destroyed long before charter schools.

And re the “kids who will be left behind”…..sadly, that’s going to happen. And the options are 1) let them ALL get pulled down by the bad environment in our already failing public schools, or 2) let some of the kids get a chance to succeed by getting into an environment conducive to learning and bettering oneself. Those who want to ensure that they all fail, under the guise of “not leaving anyone behind”, are without a doubt the most heartless people I’ve ever seen.

ELMom

June 4th, 2012
12:51 pm

@ Bait and Switch Drew is the No. 1 school in the state serving low income minority children. Is that propaganda? Drew’s minority student population is higher than the APS average and their low income student population mirrors APS.

Is it a “bait and switch” because people WANT to attend Drew? Drew can not control who applies for admission. The ONLY recruiting that Drew does is in the Villages of East Lake. There is someone on staff at the Villages for this specific purpose. No one is guaranteed a spot. An application to attend the school does not guarantee admission. If there are spots AFTER the children from the villages are accepted then the school will have a lottery for the remaining applicants. It is ILLEGAL for any charter school to discriminate against a student for any reason economic or otherwise. Does a single mother making $50K a year not deserve for her child to attend Drew simply because she does not live in the Villages? You assume that money is some magic thing that means that a child will succeed. Without mentorship and guidance things can go horribly wrong particularly for young minority males in our country.

LR

June 4th, 2012
12:52 pm

Cartel and profiteering are some pretty loaded terms… I bet I could find some fat to trim off Drew. In any event, I don’t think that teachers become teachers to make a ton of money and blow off their responsibility. Nor do I think (Beverley Hall notwithstanding) that the APS administration is bloated or incompetent. They’re doing the best they can given the important duty of educating the city’s students, and further cutting their budgets by opening more and more charter schools is not the answer. Fix the APS and not because it’s “the system” but because it’s “the system that is charged with teaching our children”.

Mary Elizabeth

June 4th, 2012
12:56 pm

“The purpose of a charter school (Drew anyway) is to be an incubator for innovation. Drew’s model has been replicated accross the nation.”
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Here is my thought for a collaborative effort between public charter schools and traditional public schools in Georgia. Have local Boards of Education, or at least leaders in their Departments of Instruction, design a plan whereby teachers from charter schools, such as Drew Charter School, would work with teachers from nearby traditional public schools to share their methods of successful instruction, through workshops and on site observations. This collaboration would improve the quality of instruction for all students in public schools, not simply those in the limited numbers of charter schools.

Cherry Picking

June 4th, 2012
12:56 pm

Lets clarify why people say they cherry pick. Kirkwood has a massive amount of kids in and about to enter Elementary School. Before redistricting, the schools for Kirkwood were Toomer, Coan and Grady. After redistricting it is Toomer, Coan and Jackson. This freaked a lot of people out and a large majority of NOT-underpriveleged, white families who currently attend Toomer Elementary panicked and submitted applications to Drew. Well, those arent the kids this school was intended for, but since Kirkwood is in the secondary zone, they will be admitted. So the end result is Drew just took a significant amount of the great students and families out of Toomer Elementary. Not because Toomer is a bad school but because those families are justifiably concerned about the middle school and high school options.

Now the underprivileged kids from Kirkwood dont have parents who even care or knew what was going on. So ELMom can honestly say they dont “cherry pick” but the end result is Drew gets better students, claims better test scores and still can point to its original mission. Clever but not completely honest.

LR=Moron

June 4th, 2012
1:01 pm

You are clearly associated in some way with the APS or local school system. I cannot believe that a rational, objective and disinterested individual would make those arguments.

I don’t think that teachers become teachers to make a ton of money. I know plenty of teachers that deserve double their current income and take better care of their students than the parents do. However, I know of plenty of teachers that do not deserve to be paid a penny for their lazy and indifferent attitude towards teaching. They view their paycheck as an entitlement and are treated as infallible by the school board.

“They’re doing the best they can given the important duty of educating the city’s students, and further cutting their budgets by opening more and more charter schools is not the answer.”

That’s cute but is not a credible argument. Charter schools ARE public schools. It’s not cutting budgets, it’s reallocating the resources towards something that works.

A Conservative Voice

June 4th, 2012
1:03 pm

@6,200 seats

June 4th, 2012
12:35 pm
If there are 6,200 empty seats, then schools should be closed down, teachers and staff should be fired and the APS should remember that they are in the business of funding EDUCATION, not funding BUILDINGS

Good point; however, you forget that the APS, like CCPS and DCSS are “Jobs Programs”……can’t be having people losing their jobs, even though they are failing……..BHO wouldn’t like that

ELMom

June 4th, 2012
1:04 pm

@ Mary Elizabeth Great idea Drew actually wrote a grant to do just that. Their intention is to work with the surrounding community schools where they can to improve the outcome for all children.

Jessica

June 4th, 2012
1:06 pm

I don’t know if charter schools ‘cherry-pick’ their students, but why not? Why shouldn’t they choose the kids who are most likely to succeed in the learning environment they have created?

Promoting uniformity and stifling innovation in the name of ‘fairness’ does nothing to improve education in this country. In fact, we need to pour MORE of those scarce education dollars into helping the kids who actually have a shot at being exceptional, especially in math and science, instead of squandering it on the kids who don’t care about higher education or don’t have the aptitude to benefit from it.

Or, you know, we could sit around fretting over fairness while other countries continue to take all our science and technology jobs.

@Jessica

June 4th, 2012
1:10 pm

Finally a voice of reason on here….

ELMom

June 4th, 2012
1:12 pm

@ Cherry Picking Once again I say DREW CAN NOT DECIDE WHO APPLIES TO THE SCHOOL. How are applications “cherry picking” on the part of Drew? Applications submitted are something that Drew nor any other school has control over.

ELMom

June 4th, 2012
1:14 pm

FYI Drew’s test score have been great for years. They are not going to skyrocket next year because “NOT-underprivlage, white families” decide to send their children.

Sick and Bloated

June 4th, 2012
1:16 pm

With a budget of over $578 million and a failure rate of 50%, somebody explain why we need to spend more?

Seems like trimming the fat and holding teachers and staff accountable for results sounds like a no-brainer.

skipper

June 4th, 2012
1:19 pm

I can understand why ANY school of ANY kind would want to operate independly of APS… the night watchman at any gate around could most likely do a comparable job. Wait; comparing night watchmen to the APS board is an insult to the watchmen! My apologies!
I’m all for local control, unless you strive for the lack of qualifications, or minimally “smarts” demonstrated by individuals on this board. The right to vote does not mean the intelligence to do so!! Charter school, corner school, school of fish! Anything out of the APS board control would have to be an improvement!

MannyT

June 4th, 2012
1:20 pm

If charter schools offer the same thing as the existing school district, then there is no need to duplicate. However, offering an alternative quickly highlights 2 things–is the different thing desirable to families, is it a better way to prepare students for the future?

In the Ivy Prep example, Gwinnett doesn’t have single sex education in its mission. It highlights the difference that Ivy Prep provides. Seems to be desirable or Ivy Prep would have empty seats. (Issues about students from outside district should be worked out in log term with money movement between districts & state.)

In the Drew example, empty seats represent APS overcapacity or lack of interest in what that location provides. The capacity problem is NOT because of charter schools. People would not leave if they thought the education was worse. On the financial front, APS has to make the tough choices to cut empty seats. Make a deal with some other charter to use empty space if Drew doesn’t want it. I suspect they could make real estate deals with most charters that often get lousy space when they start.

Maybe the APS solution is to put educational incubators in locations that have extra space. Maybe the school system runs some of these incubators OR they lease the space to private education innovators. APS would set expectations for the providers to get their efforts to a level that allows them to test with students. Students (& their families would have to opt in to test these innovations.) Adds some choice, maintains control and has fiscal responsibility.

APS also has another opportunity to manage costs. Work with MARTA to limit school buses. Happens all the time in northern cities. See Philadelphia example.
http://www.septa.org/fares/discount/students.html

Intown mom

June 4th, 2012
1:23 pm

Let’s see….the Grady zone has 0 charter schools and it’s the highest permoning high school in APS. Jackson has several charters and it’s one of the lowest performing. Could there be a correlation between charter schools and the public schools? The answer is Yes. If resources and parent involvement are diverted to the charter school the public school suffers. Why? Because the most involved parents and better students go to the charter. Parents need to invest in their public school just like parents have invested in Grady, North Atlanta and others. Instead of sending all your energy in the charter school, spend it in Jackson. I wonder if Drew H.S. was approved, would they accept all the students that are zoned to Jackson? I bet not.

T-Dubya

June 4th, 2012
1:24 pm

So do the Drew supporters want their own little club or to provide an excellent education for as many kids as possible? If the latter…..

Dear Superintendent Davis – Give Jackson to Drew and let them fix it for everyone as they add 500 students to fill it up over the next 4 years. Take the district funds committed to Jackson and use them to improve a different high school.

bystander

June 4th, 2012
1:31 pm

I don’t have a horse in this race, but some of you are being obtuse. ELMom, I don’t think you understand the definition of the word “application.” If anyone who wanted to attend the school in question could attend the school in question, then there would be no need for applications. The word “application” implies a screening process. Because there is a screening process, applicants must complete applications. Who is in charge of conducting this screening process? I assume it is the school. So while it may be true to say the school doesn’t “decide who applies to the school,” it is equally true to say that the school DOES have control over the application process.

B. Killebrew

June 4th, 2012
1:31 pm

Living in an outdated ed system

June 4th, 2012
1:32 pm

This is PRECICELY the reason why we need HR 1162 passed at the ballot box in November! You can’t have a public school manage a charter school. You are focused only on money. Well, take a look at this:

1. The students at Maynard Jackson who come from Drew have a graduation rate more than 20 percentage points higher than the other students!
2. Why wouldn’t APS want to replicate this success on a broader scale? Don’t we need to see higher graduation rates and achievement levels?

I have also read that APS is going to go into a cocoon, and shut down all of their major partnerships (e.g., Communities in Schools). They are doing EVERYTHING wrong here, and that is why we need to find ways to replicate successful school designs such as Drew Charter School.

Drew will become the poster child for state-supported charter schools, because the local school districts have their own issues to deal with.

Instead of celebrating success, @Maureen, why are you positioning yourself as the killer of innovation?

Living in an outdated ed system

June 4th, 2012
1:33 pm

And bravo, EL Mom!

Mary Elizabeth

June 4th, 2012
1:46 pm

@ ELMom, 1:04 pm

“@Mary Elizabeth Great idea Drew actually wrote a grant to do just that. Their intention is to work with the surrounding community schools where they can to improve the outcome for all children.”
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I am very glad to read of this. A collaborative approach between public charter schools and traditional public schools is an excellent way to improve public education for all of Georgia’s students.

I am a supporter of a collaborative approach to the creation of public charter schools in Georgia which, if monitored closely for positive results and authentic collaboration, can improve instruction not only for those students within public charter schools, but also for those students who remain in traditional public schools.

However, I do not support the creation of charter schools, either public or private, which has as one of its purposes the supplanting of traditional public schools.

ELMom

June 4th, 2012
1:49 pm

@ Intown Mom The Grady Zone population is vastly different for the SE population. The dividing line of resources used to be Ponce. There was a lawsuit in the 70’s because schools South of Ponce were not receiving resources. Wasn’t Grady flagged be the state because of the education disparity among it’s students??? Wasn’t Grady also under suspicion of tracking children to Crim? The number of freshman entering Grady is almost half of those who finish Grady. That does not sound great to me.

Drew’s parent’s are not as involved as you think. Drew supports the lack of involvement through other means thus working to help children REGARDLESS of parental involvement. These parents can not raise thousand of dollars in one night let alone a year. FYI in SE Atlanta charter parents DO support local schools and the parents who choose them. We believe that we should work together to educate all children. We recognize that all children learn differently.

@Mary Elizabeth

June 4th, 2012
1:49 pm

Well said and reasoned. However, you left something out…

You said: “However, I do not support the creation of charter schools, either public or private, which has as one of its purposes the supplanting of traditional public schools.”

Why not? I’m not suggesting that I do, but you give no reason for your statement.

Ed Johnson

June 4th, 2012
1:51 pm

Certainly, laud Drew Charter School’s record of achievement. Still, because it is implicit in their intention, one must ask why are Drew stakeholders and supporters more self-circumscribed and less systemically open in their thinking and behavior toward wanting to preserve and contribute to improving the whole of public education in Atlanta? Why aren’t they more inclined to the original aim of charter schools as learning laboratories in service to the public schools?

One must also ask why Drew stakeholders and supporters have not the aim to foster achievement for everyone within the newly formed Jackson Cluster and, more importantly, for everyone within our Atlanta Public Schools, if indeed lessons APS might learn from Drew’s success might benefit the district, systemically.

Instead, with their aim limited to extending Drew Charter School to include a 9-12 high school, Drew stakeholders are saying they will tightly hold to their collective chest knowledge and wisdom that, if greatly shared, could compromise them at the expense of benefitting APS, systemically. Thus knowingly or unwittingly, Drew stakeholders simply manifest free-market “Choice” proponents’ contention that charter schools must be competition for so-called regular public schools; in other words, a we-deserve-to-win-and-you-deserve-to-lose way of thinking and behaving because of our success.

Drew stakeholders’ aim to extend into high school also manifests what fairly may be called the “Success to the Successful Trap.” The trap is one that stimulates behavior driven by the belief that if one was successful once, then one naturally deserves – operative word, deserves – to be successful again, and again, and again, and so on. However, the more the trap plays out, the more it becomes a self-filling vicious cycle that aims to limit success to those judged superior, hence deserving of even more success, and that aims to deny success to those judged inferior, hence undeserving of success. Who tends to judge who is successful and who is not? Why, the ever fewer successful do, of course. Go ask any dictator how the “Success to the Successful Trap” ultimately plays out.

The “Success to the Successful Trap” poses being a highly effective and efficient means by which to dismantle public education and subsequently the sustainability of democratic ideals in service to the common good, as well. The trap seems so common as to be believed a fact of life; for example, the superintendent that invites valedictorians into his or her presence so as to learn from them, yet never extends any such invitation to dropouts or to students likely to drop out because they aren’t the successful students. Just think of the learning for leadership opportunities lost.

Atlanta Board of Education is free to assume Drew Charter School exemplifies the quality of teaching and learning the board desires for all of APS. But then, by accepting the assumption, the ABE also must accept the obligation to go learn why Drew’s success happened and how it happened. Having thusly learned, ABE’s obligation necessarily extends to the board coming back to the public to articulate why and how lessons learned from Drew achievement might help or not help to improve teaching and learning throughout APS and the board’s leadership of the same.

If for any reason the ABE cannot accept and carry through with the totality of their obligation – be it due to timing or cost, or they deem doing so impossible, impractical, ineffable, whatever the reason – that reason will be an inescapably necessary and sufficient signal that the intention to extend Drew Charter School to include a 9-12 high school is, at best, a non-value adding proposition, systemically.

In any case, if the ABE were to approve the non-value adding proposition, they will have committed to leading APS into a “Success to the Successful Trap” and more entrenched failure for APS, systemically.

Would the Atlanta Board of Education really do that?

ELMom

June 4th, 2012
2:00 pm

@Bystander to attend ANY charter school you must submit an application. This lets the school know that you are interested in attending and verifies attendance. The “application” is no more than what traditional school require for registration. Since charter school have a limited number of spaces the from is not called a registration form as you can not register unless there is a space for you. Charters have a limited number of space so not everyone can attend. THERE IS NO SCREENING PROCESS. The only screening is to verify that the child lives in the attendance zone just as traditional schools do. I do not think that you understand the process for clarification please visit the State DOE site: http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/General-Frequently-Asked-Questions.aspx

BC

June 4th, 2012
2:03 pm

Ed-I have a feeling that you’re pretty proud of your articulate diatribe, but to claim that Drew Charter School’s parents and teachers wishing to continue the successful education of their children into grades 9-12 will lead to “dismantling (sic) public education and subsequently the sustainability of democratic ideals” is a stretch.

Competitiveness in education is a good thing and everybody will benefit. Altruistic communitarianism in public education can only go so far before you see a tragedy of the commons, where nobody chooses to step up and challenge achievement and everybody loses.