Dear Rev. Joseph Lowery: Before you agree to record another advertisement decrying state charter schools as a maneuver to reinstate segregation in Georgia, perhaps you should check out the news about Ivy Preparatory Academy.
Ivy Prep, to which the Gwinnett County school board refused to grant a charter, and which as a result had to resort to the state’s chartering process, was named one the state’s highest-performers among schools with a high proportion of low-income students.
This news ought to be of interest to Gwinnett voters, given that their school system has fought tooth and nail to prevent the state from having a process to approve charter schools in general, and Ivy Prep specifically. The Gwinnett system was one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit that resulted in the old State Charter Schools Commission’s being declared unconstitutional, and about 20 percent of all the money donated to the anti-amendment campaign has come from administrators in the Gwinnett system alone.
But this news may be of particular interest to Lowery because Ivy Prep’s student body includes a much higher percentage of black students than the schools around it: 75 percent, compared to 46 percent for its nearest peer (Peachtree Elementary School) and 30 percent for Gwinnett’s entire public school system. (These and other data in this post come from the most recent Adequate Yearly Progress Reports available, those for the 2010-11 school year, on the Georgia Department of Education’s website.)
It may also be of interest to Lowery because black students at Ivy Prep were more likely to exceed state standards for both math (43 percent) and English/language arts (48 percent) than their peers at Peachtree Elementary (42 percent and 34 percent, respectively) or Gwinnett as a whole (36 percent and 38 percent, respectively).
And Ivy Prep’s black students were much less likely not to meet standards: just 6 percent on math and 2 percent on English/language arts, compared to 13 percent and 7 percent for Peachtree Elementary; and 12 percent and 5 percent for Gwinnett as a whole.
These students and their parents have chosen to attend Ivy Prep, rather than the traditional public schools Lowery defends as being better for black students — on what grounds and evidence, no one knows.
– By Kyle Wingfield