Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Charter Schools and Rural Georgia: Can it Work?

Charter Schools would work well in some rural Georgia areas, and may offer educational alternatives to rural communities. Depending on state law and local conditions, rural communities may be able to set up charter schools that are community-based, educationally appropriate to local needs, innovative, responsive to accountability measures, and focused on student success. Rural communities with a history of community cooperation and inclusiveness, a vision that allows students to pursue educational alternatives, and the desire for a sustainable small school could provide fertile ground for a charter school.


There are caveats. Nearly all charter schools face obstacles that could be formidable in rural areas, including resource limitations, conflicts with other educational entities, and regulatory issues & also know this: there is a trend toward racial segregation in the rural Black Belt here in Georgia. After the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation decision, all-White schools were set up in the South using public funds. Charter-granting organizations would need to guard against the possibility of charter schools being used as a contemporary mechanism to advance re segregation.


Many rural areas such as Randolph, Calhoun, Hancock, Taliaferro, Pierce Counties are resource poor, and shortages of start-up or operating capital and inadequate facilities could cause problems for a charter school. It is important to have strong community support that includes backing from educators, financial and in-kind contributions, and a continuing development effort which is lacking severely here in Rural Georgia.

Many rural areas still have relatively close-knit communities, but internal conflicts, battles with local and state educational agencies, and disputes over regulations can damage community well-being and sap the vitality of the charter schools. The charter school experiment appears dual-edged. For rural areas, the focus on school improvement might unify citizens. But poor economic conditions and conflicts might threaten these positive efforts.

A charter school might be successful if a community faces the loss of its school because of consolidation or if there is an atmosphere that supports educational alternatives. Chances for a charter school's success depend on a community's historic context and its citizens' will to persevere in their pursuit of high-quality education for their children.

A Georgia Charter School Amendment will appear on the November Ballot in Georgia. The measure gives the state legislature the right to create special schools.

The measure developed following a ruling by the State Supreme Court. The court ruled that the state's involvement in the establishment of public charter schools was unconstitutional. Specifically, the court ruled that the commission was illegal because it approved and funded charter schools despite objection by local school boards. So if you're a parent who looking for more choices for your kids, then you just might vote yes of the amendment, if not then, vote "NO". I for one think it won't pass, but its difficult to say at this point.

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