What is the state of education in Georgia? Why so much debate about Amendment One and the benefit or detriment of charter schools to the status quo? I think it might be a good time for me to introduce some charter school parents:
I'll start with introducing myself. I grew up in the Army and attended 10 schools from first through 12th grade. Some of the experiences were great and some of them were absolutely terrible. I went through the ups and downs of being liked in one place and bullied in another – moving to schools where curriculums were challenging sometimes and too-easy other times. I attended four high schools. I went to a public high school in VA for 9th. Went to a private school in the area for 10th and hated it and moved back to my public high school after half a year. For 11th grade, we moved to California. The next summer, my father retired from the Army so we moved again and I went to 12th grade here in GA. That move blew my mind.
The school was ill-prepared for transferring kids from other school districts so, for instance, they made me take a class called English Literature even though I pointed out that I'd taken British Literature in 10th grade. "Yes, but you didn't take English Literature." But, but... England and Britain are the same place! Didn't matter. So, I took it again. By then, I was an expert at comparing schools and was really surprised that, not only was the grading scale the easiest (in VA, the lowest A someone could get was a 95) but that the curriculum was lax compared to VA and CA.
When my daughter was born, I worried about school and knew I'd be looking into trying to find her the best options I could. She went to a private preschool and, when she went to Kindergarten at her local public school, basically polished everything she'd already learned. I was thrilled with her first grade teacher beyond words! I liked her second grade teacher though my daughter says she was "strict" – but I explained to her that there are all kinds of bosses out there and that we need to learn how to deal with ALL kinds of personalities in life so that was just fine.
When Cherokee Charter Academy opened up, we applied and got invited to go. I nearly faltered when I found out that we were not going to have buses. What a commute! What a commitment! But my husband reminded me that we could always decide to go back to our old school – but that the opportunity to get into CCA may not be there if we didn't take the chance when we were given it. So, she attended her third grade year at CCA and I am so glad she did! I LOVE Ms. Gapen!!! She taught differently than I was used to – nearly every lesson had a hands-on experience for it and my daughter absorbed information like a sponge. (She knew details and nuances about the Apollo 18 mission and taught ME things I didn't know before.) This year has been more of the same for her. I am thrilled that an unexpected bonus for us has been the parent benefit I hadn't anticipated. There is a network of engaged, excited, committed parents here who are passionately working to provide the kids with the best experience possible.
Yes, it was new, it was our great experiment and there were bugs to work out. There still are bugs to work out. But the good news is that we can work out the bugs. We can look at them, call them out, fix them. The red tape is minimal. The hurdles are few. That is the biggest difference from the regular public school: my daughter abd I have a voice and we matter and we count and we are valued.