Do public charter schools deliver results in a more cost-effective way compared to traditional public schools? That’s the question addressed by a recent research report from the University of Arkansas (PDF download). The answer, it turns out, is unequivocally yes.
Researchers examined eight cities, including Atlanta, for the 2013-2014 academic year. Looking at students in both traditional and charter schools, the research team compared funding levels with performance outcomes on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam. It turns out that—across all eight cities—students in charter schools performed better on these assessments even though the charter schools received less money.
Charter schools are public schools that have the flexibility to practice innovative approaches to improve academic achievement. Currently, there are 115 charter schools in Georgia and 32 charter systems that include 326 schools.
Specifically focusing on Atlanta charter schools, the University of Arkansas report found the following:
- “After considering the per-pupil funding differences across the two sectors, Atlanta public charter schools produced an average of 2.16 more points on the NAEP reading assessment and 2.26 more points on the NAEP math exam for each $1,000 in funding than Atlanta [traditional public schools].”
- “In Atlanta traditional public schools, average NAEP scores were 257 for reading and 272 for math, and per-pupil revenue was $16,429. In Atlanta public charter schools, average NAEP scores were 258 points for reading and 273 for math, and per-pupil revenue was $14,490.”
The report concludes that “public charter schools result in a bigger bang for fewer bucks than traditional public schools … Since educational resources are limited, charter schools look to be an especially attractive vehicle for delivering education to students more productively.”
A proposal (House Bill 787) currently pending in the Georgia General Assembly would authorize more funding for charter schools, bringing them into parity with funding for traditional public schools.
On Monday, lawmakers in the Georgia House Ways and Means Committee overwhelmingly passed House Bill 482, a measure that would make Education Savings Accounts (ESAs) a reality in the Peach State. Representatives Paul Battles (R- Cartersville), Allen Peake (R- Macon), Chuck Martin (R- Alpharetta), Trey Kelley (R- Cedartown), Dale Rutledge (R- McDonough), David Knight (R- Griffin), Sam Teasley (R- Marietta), Jay Powell (R-Camilla), Shaw Blackmon (R- Bonaire), and Brett Harrell (R- Snellville) all deserve thanks for their role in the bill’s approval.
As HB 482 advances through the legislature, it seems possible that Georgia could become the seventh state to pass ESAs
The idea is simple. Georgia taxpayers currently pay more than $10,000 per student per year for public school education. Parents who withdraw their child from public schools and opt for an ESA would be given a percentage of that money to spend on their child’s education. That money can cover private school tuition, private tutoring, educational therapy, textbooks, online classes, or other educational expenses. Money that’s left over upon high school graduation can be used for college expenses. This empowers parents – who know and love their kids more than any bureaucrat or government official – to take a more active role in their child’s education.
Thanks to an ESA program in Florida, Faith Kleffel, a student with Down Syndrome, was able to access the physical and occupational therapy she needed to thrive. Arizona’s program allows students with autism to attend a school specifically designed with their needs in mind. ESA programs in other states have allowed students to succeed when traditional schools weren’t able to supply what they needed.
Education Savings Accounts give parents more freedom to find the best education for their kids. Launching an ESA program in Georgia will be a win for Georgia kids and Georgia families.
It’s National Marriage Week, so it’s a great time to take an inventory of your marriage. Here are some tools to help you more fully engage with your spouse and help strengthen your marriage.
- Do you know your love language? If not, or it’s been awhile, take the online quiz to discover your love language. Click Here.
- While this tool does have a cost, the Couples Checkup, is an online assessment to help you and your spouse identify the strongest portions of your relationship and the areas where you might need a little more TLC.
- According to AJC.com, these are the best 8 places in the Atlanta area for free or under $20 date night.
For more information on how you can better engage/strengthen your marriage, visit BuildMyBestRelationship.com.
Since the 1970s the marriage rate has gone from 80 percent of adults being married down to 52 percent. This rapid decline in marriage has caused an upward spike in the number of single parents living in poverty. How do we as a community combat this negative spiral downwards? Helping to rebuild healthy marriages is a good first step.
Because of these shocking trends, the Healthy Families Initiative is participating in National Marriage Week which begins on February 7th and ends on Valentine’s Day.
The week is designed to shine a spotlight on the growing decline of marriages and help strengthen marriages and communities. The Healthy Families Initiative will host Love is a Choice, I Choose You, on February 10th, an evening for couples to renew their marriage vows and celebrate the joys of being married. This event will also be part of a Facebook campaign #LoveIsAChoice, which will be a week-long campaign of daily challenges to become more engaged in your marriage.
For centuries marriage has been the weapon of choice to combat poverty, and today it is still the best defense. In fact, marriage is so important to strengthening today’s society, that Governor Nathan Deal has declared the week National Marriage Week within the state of Georgia. Marriages build strong communities and happier people.
Marriage has financial gains
- Married men are more successful in work as well, getting promoted more often and receiving higher performance appraisals.
- As for women, married women earn up to 10% more than their single peers.
Married people live longer
- Single men have mortality rates that are 250% higher than married men.
- Single women have mortality rates that are 50% higher than married women.
Married people are mentally more healthy
- Married people report lower levels of depression and distress, and 40% say they are very happy with their lives, compared to about 25% in single people.
Married people have more sex
- About 40% of married people have sex twice a week, compared to 20-25% of single and cohabitating men and women.
Statistics are from The Case for Marriage Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better off Financially by Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher.
For more information about strengthening your marriage and the FREE workshops that can help you accomplish your marriage goals, visit BuildMyBestRelationship.com.
Georgia lawmakers are poised to consider several bills that would make education savings accounts (ESAs) a reality for students in our state. ESAs empower families with the option of leaving their local public school and choosing an educational option that better fits the needs of their child—such as private school, tutoring, or online learning programs.
In a recent piece in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, columnist Kyle Wingfield makes the strong point that at least one of these bills—House Bill 482—is “probably the most bulletproof piece of school-choice legislation Georgia has ever seen.”
Specifically, the current version of HB 482 has several provisions and accountability measures that directly address common objections raised by opponents of school choice. The bill:
- Reaches students who need help the most: It prioritizes students who have special needs, have been bullied, are from low-income households, are adopted or in the foster-care system, or live with an active-duty military parent stationed in Georgia. This hyper-targeted segment accounts for less than 0.25 percent of the entire public-school student population.
- Implements financial controls and requires standardized testing: The bill also creates strong financial accountability mechanisms for both public and private schools involved with ESAs. Another accountable measure requires students participating in the ESA program to take nationally norm-referenced tests measuring academic achievement in math and language arts.
As Wingfield summarizes, the bill “addresses every objection school-choice opponents have ever raised. Well, except for their objection to the very existence of school choice at all.”
Think about the opportunities opened up by ESAs for students who face a dim future in a school that doesn’t meet their needs:
- A low-income student in a low-performing school district can receive an education that gives him or her the best chance of flourishing in the future.
- A bullied student can escape a toxic, dangerous environment and flourish at a safer school of choice.
- A special-needs student—maybe a child with autism, a traumatic brain injury, or an orthopedic impairment—can receive the individualized attention needed to thrive.
Without ESAs and other school-choice measures, these students are likely to remain stuck in local school districts that fall short in adequately addressing their unique needs.
If lawmakers approved an ESA bill this year, Georgia would become the sixth state nationally to create one of these programs.