I am writing as both a parent of students who attend a charter school and a teacher who works at one. The school I speak of is Pataula Charter Academy (PCA) located in Edison, Georgia. This is one of the controversial schools that was created by approval of a state commissioned board rather than the local school boards. Now we are in danger of having our doors closed unless an amendment to the constitution is approved in the November election stating that it is legal for a state commissioned board to approve charter schools when local boards refuse.
I am urging everyone reading this to please vote yes to this amendment. PCA serves students in five counties. All five of the local school boards of the counties that we serve denied our application for approval when we asked to form a charter school, thus forcing us to go to the state commissioned board.
Prior to the creation of PCA, parents in our area had very few choices for their children’s education. One option was to send their children to sub-par public schools which were consistently on the needs improvement list due to the fact that they were not making adequate yearly progress as determined by the state. The other option was to send them to a private school which might not even be an option due to financial limitations or race.
PCA is a public school open to children of all races and economic status in five counties in our area. Since it is public, of course it is free. All of the parents who choose to send their children to PCA care about education and are actively involved in their children’s school life.
Perhaps the best thing about our school is that ALL children are made to feel loved, accepted, and proud. Many students at PCA have attended three or four schools prior to ending up here. They have not been successful anywhere else, and have previously hated school. Now, they love it! They came to our school very behind academically and with very low self-esteem. However, through nurturing, patience, and the fostering of a school culture based on tolerance, these students are thriving. That is what touches my heart the most about PCA.
Students come here from all walks of life. Children who have been bullied in their other schools now feel safe. Kids who have been the bullies in their others school have learned to be civil. This is due to the fact that our school focuses on school culture as much as academics. As a result, all students feel accepted. Once you have a good culture, learning can take place. Perhaps this is why our test scores were so high last spring!
If the amendment to the constitution does not pass, then all of these children will no longer have this school as an option.
Please hear me. This is not about money or anything else the opposition may want you to believe. This amendment is simply about these precious children. Please come visit our school if you would like. I have been teaching for twenty years in four states, and I have never had the pleasure of working in an environment like this.
When you vote on November 6, please vote with your heart. Vote yes for amendment one. You will be blessing our children!