Today the BOE will consider and vote on approving the Atlanta Classical Academy charter petition – my sense is that a YES vote will bring students back to the public schools.
Why? Let me tell you our story – it is purely anecdotal, but I know that many parents have had a similar experience.
When we moved to Atlanta our choices for great schools appeared to be limited. We had to choose between public and private schools and determine what was best for our children. Our internal family debate was lengthy as both my wife and I went to great public schools. However, as we investigated further, the answer for us became fairly simple. Given the state of the public schools, we decided that the private schools were our best alternative. The financial commitment was immense, but the educational outcome was worth the investment in our children’s education.
Today, in the 18 private schools in Atlanta with a total enrollment of over 500 students there are nearly 19,000 students. And parents are paying an average of nearly $200 thousand for a K-12 education – which is on top of the property and other taxes they already pay to support the public schools. There are many reasons parents are choosing private schools, but how many of them would have been happy to forgo the huge cost if they had an alternative that promised a high quality education?
If given the choice 18 years ago, we might have made a very different decision.
Today the BOE will make a decision on whether to approve the Atlanta Classical Academy charter school petition. And while some have concerns that the school may draw students away from other public schools, my experience tells me that this will not be the case.
If ACA can live up to its commitments – which I believe it will due to the strength of both the support in the community and its leadership team – then the students it will attract goes far beyond the local public schools. The parents of the 19,000 students who now go to private schools will have an additional choice – a choice to provide their children with a great education and a choice to forgo a huge financial burden.
Charter schools are public schools and ACA has demonstrated that it has a viable plan to be a strong contributor to the APS system.
Is there value in attracting students back into the public schools?
I think so – and I wish that we had that option 18 years ago.
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