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Why is Erroll B. Davis Reducing Parental Choice?

Opposition to Drew Charter High School and out-of-zone Transfers are steps in the wrong direction.

It often seems that Progressives and Conservatives are able to find little on which they agree.  However, both presidential candidates in the 2012 elections do agree on one thing:  parents should have more access to education options.

Barack Obama and his Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, have promoted school choice over the past four years by pushing states to increase charter schools through the Race to the Top program.

Mitt Romney announced his education platform in late May.  One piece of the plan that got considerable attention was his push for states to adopt an open enrollment system, allowing students to attend any school, regardless of where they live.  

If Romney's plan were enacted, it would give all students access to high-quality schools whether or not their parents could afford the accompanying real estate prices.

Romney is not the first to suggest untying zip codes and schools.  Some New York City districts have become "choice districts," meaning students can choose the middle school they attend, whether or not they are zoned for that school.

At a time when the nation and both political parties seem to be in agreement on increasing school choice, APS Superintendent, Erroll B. Davis, has announced plans to move in the opposite direction.

The AJC's Maureen Downey provided in April Mr. Davis's Final Redistricting and Closure Recommendations.  The report says that APS will "decrease the extensive use of out-of-zone transfers."  

Mr. Davis also opposed opening Drew Charter High School, an extension of the highly-successful East Lake charter school currently serving grades K-8.

The moves are motivated by real problems.  APS faces budget cuts, overcrowding in north Atlanta schools, and underuse of south Atlanta schools.  Mr. Davis has come up with a plan that addresses these problems, but it comes at the expense of school choice.

We've seen over the past 50 years that when a city's students are isolated in under-performing schools with little or no economic diversity, outcomes are not desirable.  Therefore, I consider both policies steps in the wrong direction.  

Without a doubt, there are real and difficult trade-offs here, but I would prefer to see the closure of more under-utilized facilities rather than limit student choice.  

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

dina b June 27, 2012 at 04:46 PM
This is a tough issue. Everyone wants their schools to improve and no one is willing to take the pain that is required to make this happen. I don't think Mr. Davis is purposely trying to eliminate choice, but parents are not choosing our local southeast atlanta schools. Many families with involved parents (including mine) choose the charter schools over the local public schools. We are not entirely happy with this choice, but we need our local schools to stop teaching to the test and we need safety and accountability in those schools. We need to see a concerted effort to teach the children how to be nice to eachother as well.

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