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 low-to-mixed income areas of: English Avenue, Grove Park, Capital View, Oakland City, and Roseland. One closed school is in a mixed-income area of East Lake, which is near Charles R. Drew Charter School.
By the Georgia Department of Education (GDOE), out of the 18 charter schools that are expected to serve Atlanta students for the 2012-13 school year: 13 are APS-approved charters, 2 state-approved schools in APS district, and 3 state-approved statewide virtual charters under state control. The 13 APS-approved charters and 2 state charters are located in low-to-mixed income areas of: East Lake, Lakewood, Custer-McDonough-Guice, Grant Park, Ormewood Park, Reynoldstown, Bedford Pine, Vine City, Washington Park, Westview, Anderson Park, Adamsville, and Greenbriar.
According to GDOE a total of 217 charter schools serves Georgia in 2011-12 out of 2,289 schools in Georgia. By GA law there are 3 types of charters: Conversions (C), Start-ups (S), which can be locally-approved charter schools or state-approved special schools (SCSS), and Charter System Schools (CSYS). Some career academies can be chartered, but not all. Of the 18 charters that serves Atlanta students, there are 4 SCSS and 14 S. According to GDOE for Georgia in 2011-12, there were 13 SCSS, 107 CSYS, 30 C, 14 charter systems and 67 S.
For 2012-13, APS oversees 72 Atlanta traditional schools: 50 elementary schools (ES), 11 middle schools (MS), 2 single gender MS academies, and 9 high schools; plus 13 charters, which totals 85 under APS.
Some charters in Georgia have reverted to traditional schools or never opened, 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 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.
Georgia was ranked 4th in 2009, but now is 14th in charter school laws, where 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, funded by the GA treasury, despite local opposition.
H.B. 797 would create charters that were denied by local school board, if subsequently approved as a state charter school, by repeal conflicting laws. State charters will be funded by “federal grant funds, institutional grant funds, and philanthropic organizations...expend gifts, grants, and donations of any kind from any public or private entity.”
Also, H.B. 797 will be state funded by the GA treasury, which may come from state income tax, state sales tax, other state taxes or state fees collected by the state. OPB defines state funds from reserves like, surplus funds, lottery receipts, Indigent Care Trust funds, motor fuel tax funds, Tobacco Settlement funds, or other sources of revenue all forms “the basis for the Governor's revenue estimate;” but will not come from local property taxes.
New Orleans after Katrina destruction in 2005, experimented with charters by converted all of their public schools into charter schools.
Currently, (before the 7 closings) there were 12 charter schools that serve over 3,000 students under APS, out of 50,000 total students in 91 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?
The reasons APS closed the 7 schools has been already debated at many APS meetings like: the $46M deficit, less tax revenue of $120M coming in for 4 years, low enrollment and the demographic study.
Atlanta maybe slowly replacing public schools in GA with charters, but not as quickly as some assumes, nor like New Orleans. So, to answer the question if charter schools are expanding depends on your point of view.
New charter schools to open under APS for 2012-13 school year
- KIPP STRIVE Academy (5-7 grade) Start-up 1444 Lucile Ave SW, Atlanta GA 30310
- Latin Academy Charter School (6-8) Start-up location TBD and final decision expected on July 9 2012
New charter school approved, but not yet open to Atlanta students
KIPP Vision Primary (5-6) Start-up 660 McWilliams Road SE, Atlanta GA 30315
Existing Start-up charters under APS for 2012-13 school year
3. Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (K-5), 668 Grant St SE, Atlanta GA 30315
Atlanta Neighborhood Charter School (6-8), 820 Essie Ave, Atlanta GA 30316
4. Atlanta Preparatory Academy, (K-8) 564 MLK Jr. Dr NW, Atlanta GA 30314
5. Charles R. Drew Charter School (PreK 3-8) 301 East Lake Blvd, Atlanta GA 30317
6. The Intown Academy (K-8) 386 Pine St NE, Atlanta GA 30308
7. The Kindezi School (K-4) 98 Anderson Ave NW, Atlanta GA 30314
8. KIPP Atlanta Collegiate (9th grade) 98 Anderson Ave NW, Atlanta GA 30314
9. KIPP STRIVE Academy (5-8) 1444 Lucile Ave SW, Atlanta GA 30310
10. KIPP Vision (5-8) 660 McWilliams Rd SE, Atlanta GA 30315
11. KIPP WAYS (5-8) 80 Joseph E. Lowery Blvd NW, Atlanta GA 30314 '
12. Tech High School, (9-12) 1043 Memorial Dr SE, Atlanta GA 30316
13. Wesley International Academy, (K-8) 1049 Custer Ave, Atlanta GA 30316
State charters under the state board for 2012-13 school year for Atlanta students
14. Atlanta Heights Charter School (K-8) SCSS 3712 MLK Jr. Dr SW, Atlanta GA 30331
15. Heritage Preparatory Academy (6-8) SCSS 3350 Greenbriar Pkwy, Atlanta GA 30331
16. Georgia Connections Academy (K-12) SCSS Duluth GA 30097
Virtual state controlled charter
17. Georgia Cyber Academy (K-12) SCSS Atlanta GA 30349
Program of Odyssey School. Virtual state controlled charter
18. Provost Academy of Georgia (9-12) Start-up Atlanta GA 30350
Opens in August 2012. Virtual state controlled charter
Source: Georgia Department of Education