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Why limit charter schools to MCLB?

By   /   February 12, 2013  /   Comments

The Dougherty County Board of Education is entertaining the notion of forming a charter school for Marines and base employees at MCLB Albany.  This comes amidst discussions of school closings that stirred the souls of many in the community.  To be honest, I expect BOE member Robert Youngblood’s suggestion to further anger those who are upset that their schools are being shut down.

Me?  I want to know why they’re just talking about a single charter school.

Charter schools are essentially publicly funded private schools.  Each school has its own board that is responsible for the operation of the school.  Parents can enroll their kids in the school if they want, but there are no “zones” involved really.  Personnel decisions, which has been a real public relations problem for the school board, are handled there at the school.

Some have envisioned charter schools as the way to save our educational system, and I have to admit I’m leaning that direction myself.  I don’t think there’s any thing approaching a “silver bullet” on this issue, but I do think charter schools may be the key to starting along that path.  This is especially true it Dougherty County.

Youngblood reportedly suggested the charter school for the base as a way to try and improve education for Marine dependents.  He cited BRAC as a reason this probably needs to be explored.  I can sympathize.  We can ill afford the economic hit that would come with losing the Marine base.  However, my question is now, “What about my kids?  What about the rest of Albany?”

I’m not opposing a charter school at the base, but instead I simply want to know why this idea isn’t being explored for the rest of us.  Albany has been losing people for years, which why the school board is talking about closing two schools and re-purposing a third.  Anyone with a fully functional brain knows that our educational system is a huge chunk of the reason why.  People flee Dougherty County not because of “white flight” as some have alleged, but “smart flight”.  People leave Dougherty County for better educational opportunities for their kids.

If the school board looked at charter schools on a broader scale, which is to say that they looked at opening more for the rest of us, then there would be an opportunity to turn around education in the Dougherty County School System.  Parents who actually care would send their kids to charter schools if their so-called neighborhood school is inadequate.  Imagine people actually not leaving for Lee County so their kids can go to those schools instead?

There are a lot of people trying to figure out what to think regarding the charter school at the base.  Me, I know what to think, and that is whether the rest of our kids deserve the same shot at a top notch education.

Tom Knighton is the Editor and Publisher of the Albany Journal.

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Owner / Editor / Writer

Tom Knighton is the publisher of The Albany Journal. In November, 2011, he became the first blogger to take over a newspaper anywhere in the world. In August of 2012, he made the difficult decision to take the Journal out of print circulation and become an online news agency, a first for the Albany area.

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