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Are Charter Schools Expanding in Georgia?

At the APS April meeting to close 7 schools, some audience members believed that charter schools are expanding and maybe the reason for the closures. I did research on charter schools in Georgia.

During the April 10 Atlanta Public Schools meeting where the board voted to close seven Atlanta schools, two audience members commented that charter schools were expanding, so I investigated if this is true. 

The six Atlanta closed schools are in predominately low-income African American areas:  English Avenue, Grove Park, Capital View, Oakland City, and Roseland.  One closed school is in a mixed-income area of East Lake, which is only a few blocks from Charles R. Drew Charter School.

The total of Atlanta charter schools, by the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE) lists 18, but APS lists 12.  The charters are located in low-to-mixed income areas near:  East Lake, Cornell, Custer-McDonough-Guice, Grant Park, Ormewood Park, Reynoldstown, South Kirkwood, Central Park, Vine City, Ashby, Westview, Dixie Hills, Adamsville, and Greenbriar.

The GDOE lists a total of 133 charter schools in Georgia, and there are 5 types:  State Charter Special Schools (SCSS), Charter System Schools (CSYS), Charter Academies (CA), Conversions (C), and Start-ups (S).  Of the 18 charters for APS, there are 2 SCSS and 16 S.  And for Georgia, there are 14 SCSS, 14 CSYS, 15 CA, 31 C, and 59 S.

APS controls 72 Atlanta schools:  50 elementary schools (ES), 11 middle schools (MS), 2 single gender MS academies, and 9 high schools; plus 18 charters, totals 90 under APS.

Some charters in Georgia have reverted to traditional schools or terminated, like Charles Ellis Montessori Academy in Savannah and Adair Park Charter with APS.

Charter schools, started by Ray Budde from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and Albert Shanker of American Federation of Teachers in 1988, as “schools of choice.”  Charters operate both like a public school and private business, getting public taxpayer dollars.  The first one opened in Georgia in 1995 at Addison ES.

Some criticize the business model of charters because out of 5,000 charters in America, 95% of them are non-union and many teachers are burned out by the long hours.

Some studies have shown little progress in students from charter schools, like CREDO study that shows that “charter school students can expect to see their academic growth be somewhat lower than their traditional public school peers.”  The UCLA Civil Rights Project, found increased segregation at many charters schools in 40 different states, including GA. 

Caroline Hoxby 2000 study showed “Whether a student experiences peers of different racial groups or different poverty status is not significantly affected by the degree of choice among school districts.”  Yet, Lawrence Mischel found Hoxby studies limited, because the “assessment of school outcomes is based on the share of students who are proficient at reading or math but not the average test score.”

After President Bush No Child Left Behind (NCLB) program in 2001 started to focus on standardized-based test scores, AVP and other factors.  The NCLB helped to promote the growth of more charters, if schools failed NCLB standards.  If after the 5th year of failures with a school’s AYP targets, they would have to restructure the school into either:  a charter, close down, hire a private company or put the state department of education to control the school.

In Georgia, ranked as the 4th in charter school laws, politicians have also helped to expand charters, after the first law in 1994.  For 2012, GA politicians wanted to increase charters further with new laws, like H.R. 1162 that would allow the state to create special charters, by establishing state-wide education policies, despite local opposition.

Also, H.B. 797 would create charters that were denied by local school board.  If subsequently approved as a state charter school, they would receive their local share of state per student funds and repeal conflicting laws.

New Orleans after Katrina destruction in 2005, experimented with charters by converted all of their public schools into charter schools.

Currently, there are 18 charter schools that serve over 3,000 students under APS, out of 50,000 students in 90 schools; but what will it be in the future?  What would be the future of Atlanta with more charter schools replacing public schools, like New Orleans?  Was APS's decision to close these 7 schools in Atlanta, a way to bring in more charter schools in low-income areas and expand? 

If APS decision to close 7 schools was based on the expansion of charters; only those in APS management, knows the truth.  Other than that, the reasons APS closed schools been given before like:  the $46M deficit, less tax revenue of $120M coming in for 4 years, low enrollment and the demographic study, has already been debated at many APS meetings.

Atlantans need to dig deeper into APS board member’s decisions to close 7 schools, with little public notice in advance, like 6 months or a year's notice.  Otherwise, Atlanta will slowly replace public schools in GA with charters, like New Orleans.  And maybe charter expansion, will become a reality for all low-income areas of Atlanta.

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Chris Murphy June 23, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Back to the topic: that the APS Board and administration is involved in some conspiracy to replace regular public schools with charters. I had hoped someone would jump down your intellectual throat, but I guess they got sidetracked. The only thing the APS Board members can agree on is the general principal of remaining figureheads. The APS administration, as led by Supt. Davis, has been fairly transparent- depends on the specific action. As far as the re-districting, they had so many meetings it made my head spin. The problem with the specific closings was that they were moving targets: facilities were nominated to be closed, but the the public weighed in and got the list changed and shortened. The size of the APS student population has been shrinking for decades, but what brought on the immediate need for re-districting was/is a shrinking budget, brought on by lower property values, and lower other gov't. contributions (Fed. and State) to APS. The charters were brought on because of the low quality of APS schools in those areas. Those charters have not always greatly advanced the educational choices of APS students, but at the least they have brought a sense of urgency and shown that masses of parents do care. If there has been any conspiracy at APS, it has been by individuals in administration and the Board seeking to improve their careers at public expense while not providing any value to the process of educating children in Atlanta.
JR Garcia June 28, 2012 at 12:44 AM
Marko -- The Latin Academy used that commercial address on Hosea Williams drive, located in Kirkwood proper, as a business address - only. Since most (if not all) new charter schools don't know what site they may house the school, a business address is listed. In the charter application several potential sites are usually identified. Earl is correct. The current charter school located on Memorial Dr, Ivy Prep, is a Dekalb Co. school system charter school, not APS. You are partially correct in calling it South Kirkwood, as that name is on many deeds located in the Parkview community. But, that is the similar to Lake Claire, where most of those homes say North Kirkwood. The difference being, Parkview is in unincorporated Dekalb Co. and happens to abut the City of Atlanta boundary. The APS site is accurate. Oh, for the record, the comparison to New Orleans is not accurate - in any way. Atlanta / APS has charter schools that are grass-roots / parent founded ( Neighborhood Charter School in Grant Park & Atlanta Charter Middle School, now ANCS), some manage by for-profit companies, & some strongly funded non-profits etc.. The Demographic Study process took several years, not 6 month. Have you been engaged during the whole time? honest question, no snark, really. Marko, what part of town do you live in and where do your kids go to school, if I may ask? -ramiro garcia | founding family of NCS and LSC memer @ Jackson High - both in Grant Park.
Marko Robinson June 28, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Dear Garcia, I got my numbers and address from the GA Dept of Education (GDOE). In my new draft that was finally approved by contact at GDOE, after over a week of debate by email, he agreed to my new draft of this article, when it comes to GDOE numbers and info. Also, I have a list of the charters that serve Atlanta students approved by GDOE in new article. Latin Academy is on Hosea Williams and if you find it on Yahoo Maps, it is in Kirkwood. I own a home in Edgewood, down the road from Hosea Williams near Coan MS. No kids, but pay property tax for schools in Dekalb. Sincerely, Marko
Marko Robinson June 28, 2012 at 04:40 PM
Dear Garcia, Thank you for your feedback & I want to tell you the address for the Latin Academy location will be TBD and the final decision has not be made where it will be located but is expected by July 9 2012, which I found from my contact at GDOE. So, I put in my changes with the editor. Thank you for correcting my error on Latin Academy's address. Sincerely, Marko
Marko Robinson June 28, 2012 at 05:01 PM
To All Readers, Here is the updated article above and my corrections from the GDOE. http://vahi.patch.com/blog_posts/are-charter-schools-expanding-in-georgia-ae8d0449 Sincerely, Marko

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