by Tris Sicignano
On July 9th the APS Board of Education will vote on whether it will allow Drew Charter to expand its charter to include a high school. Drew supporters are planning a rally scheduled for July 8 to show their support for the charter expansion. Drew Charter School is an Atlanta public school. Founded in 2000, Drew is the City of Atlanta's first charter school.
The school started with 240 children in grades kindergarten through fifth and has since grown to serve more than 850 students ages 3 through eighth grade with an average class size of 22 students. In 2000, Drew Charter School was ranked 69th of 69 Atlanta Public Elementary Schools. Currently Drew Charter is ranked No. 4. Students at Drew are outpacing their peers across the state and based on ITBS testing, Drew students are testing above the national average.
Superintendent Erroll Davis has issued a statement that he will not support the addition of Drew's Senior Academy, citing that "we have committed approximately $40 million to renovating Maynard Jackson High School."
Zero tax dollars will be used to construct the Drew Charter Senior Academy. For the community members and parents of Drew, the Senior Academy represents a future for the children within the community that Drew serves. APS has a 54 percent graduation rate across the board, and for African American males that graduation rate falls to 34 percent. On the other hand, students who have graduated from Drew Charter school have a 78 percent graduation rate.
For students who partake in the CREW Teens program coordinated by Drew Charter, their graduation rate is 94 percent. In expanding its charter to include a Senior Academy, Drew hopes to be able to serve more children and increase graduation rates to 100 percent.
Of all elementary and middle schools in Georgia with 60 percent+ low income students and 60 percent+ African-American students, Drew ranks:
- No. 1 of 301 elementary schools in Georgia (93rd of 1,176 elementary schools state wide regardless of demographics)
- No. 1 of 134 middle schools in Georgia (98th of 479 middle schools state wide regardless of demographics)
On July 9 the Atlanta school board will vote on the Drew Charter amendment to include a High School. The High School will provide a project-based learning option for our children. As a community, East Lake voted to support the charter amendment and now we need your help. We have only two weeks until the APS Board votes on the Drew charter amendment. It is important to show your support for Drew during this crucial time. There are a few dates and items that have been planned. It is extremely important that we have your help and support:
- Keep Them Coming: Keep calling, emailing and sending snail mail to the school board and local representatives. Even if you have already sent a letter, send another letter in support of Drew High School. Letters should be mailed to: School Board Member Name, 130 Trinity Ave. Atlanta, 30303 (Please see DrewCharterSchoolAlliance.weebly.com for additional APS contact information.)
- Sign Making: Please help us prepare for the rally — July 7, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. (or until roughly 100 signs are made) Drew Charter School: 301 East Lake Blvd.
- Support Drew High School Rally: July 8, from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Drew Charter School: 301 East Lake Blvd. Wear green to show your support.
- APS Board of Education Meeting July 9: APS Building, 130 Trinity Ave. Please try to be there by 5 p.m. The meeting of the whole begins at 6 p.m. but please try to arrive as early as possible so that our Drew support is visible. Once the boardroom is full, others will be directed to overflow rooms. Wear green and show your support.
Mrs. Sicignano is founder of the East Lake Schools Coalition.