Charter School Students in Georgia Speak Truth to Power

Charter school students in Georgia are understandably dismayed by the behavior of adults around them. Recently, some students have been dragged into the political process as actions taken by some adults threaten the existence of the schools they love and in which they excel. Tax dollars pay for education for students in public schools, and charter schools are public schools. Public dollars in Georgia are paying for public education and paying salaries of public school teachers- so what’s the problem?

These students from Georgia rightly point out the outrageous opposition of certain members of entrenched power blocks that are having difficulty surrendering their monopoly over the status quo- the one that has led most schools in Georgia to coming in near the bottom in the nation.

“My charter school helps me go to college, so all this about ‘no’ doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Jordyn Sheppard, a student at Ivy Preparatory Academy.

Autumn Smith, another student from Ivy Prep, wrote the following open letter:

My name is Autumn Smith. I am a 7th grade scholar at Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood. I recently attended the Georgia Black Caucus-Annual Legislative Conference. As the meeting began, I had respect for all of the adults there; I looked up to each and every one of them. Sadly, I have to say my perspective changed.

First I’d like to tell my story. I live in a neighborhood where the behavior, education, and parent resources aren’t up to the standards I have been taught to expect. Therefore, I went in search of a good school. I found Clifton Elementary, which is a technology magnet school. While I was there, my grades rose and I felt happy and confident about my school. I went to Clifton from 3rd grade all the way to 5th grade. After I left Elementary school, I realized I was zoned to attend Columbia Middle School. Columbia Middle School is half magnet program half resident. But, the school itself has gangs, drugs, and abuse going on inside the school. Luckily, the summer before I started middle school, I found out about Ivy Preparatory Academy-Kirkwood. After learning about the school, I decided it was the right choice for me. Now this is the second year that my school has been open. We are growing strong and will continue to grow strong. I’m not going to let anyone get in the way of my education and future.

Back to the caucus meeting, all I kept hearing from the adults was, “It’s all about the children”. It kept running through my head if it is all about the children tell me why we argue, and fuss about our schools. We should all have a common goal to give children the proper education they need to have a bright future. I stood up and got in line to ask a question to the panelists. “Why were our tax dollars being spent to train teachers how NOT to vote for the charter schools amendment?” The moderator for the evening decided that my question should not be asked. Nobody could tell me why tax dollars are being used to teach people not to stand up for my education. If it was “all about the children,” why were they trying to make me be quiet and not answer my question?

Just recently, I saw a screening of a movie called “Won’t Back Down” it was about a school that was underperforming and how parents did not just sit there and wait for change. They stood up and made a difference in their school, and community. Neither can I wait for a change. I’m not going to sit back, relax, and wait for change that might not come until my grandchild is in school. I want change, and I want it now. I deserve to have a choice in what school I want to be in. I just don’t understand what the problem is if charter schools are performing better than other schools, when being funded less, then why can’t people see that Choice is important.

I want to end on a positive note. If it’s going to be all about kids, let’s listen to what they have to say. Charter school is a very important word in my life right now, and here are the reasons why…

C Choice, I have the choice to choose what school, education, and type of education I want. Whether from a book, lecture, hands-on, or writing.
H Harmony, for once everyone works together teachers, parents, scholars as we like to call our students, faculty, and staff.
A Academics, Academics is the most important thing in a charter school ours are definitely onboard.
R Radical, we teach in different ways but our students are top notch the best of the best.
T Training, we make sure our teachers have the proper training, and knowledge to teach our students.
E Encouragement, what I like most about my school, is that not what situation I’m in everyone love and supports me. They tell me no matter what keep pressing on, your worth more than you could ever imagine.
R Resources, my school has provided me with outstanding resources– everything I could ever need to be successful in everything I do.

Now, who are the adults that want to help me continue with the great school I have found? I thank you all for helping me keep my school.

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