Gov. Kemp Announces GEER II Funding to Support Education

Gov. Kemp Announces GEER II Funding to Support Education

student at desk

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has announced that $4.1 million in new federal GEERs funding will be allocated to “the creation and replication of 10 new, high-quality charter schools in underserved communities. The funds will be utilized for start-up costs, networking opportunities, long-term planning support, and other purposes.”

The Georgia Center for Opportunity’s (GCO) take: “We can’t think of a better way to deploy federal emergency dollars meant to help students than to create and strengthen charter schools, particularly in areas of the state where few, if any, charters exist,” said Buzz Brockway, GCO’s vice president of public policy. “Prior to the pandemic, we were already failing far too many of our students. The ripple effects of the virus have only worsened the situation. That’s why we must learn the lessons of this pandemic and continue to expand educational options for all students moving forward.

 

State can give parents options and support traditional public schools

State can give parents options and support traditional public schools

State can give parents options and support traditional public schools

GIRL SCIENCE, ELECTRICAL BOARD

Educational choice is saving the state money

 

An updated analysis from EdChoice finds that Georgia’s two educational choice programs—the Special Needs Scholarship Program and the Qualified Education Expense Tax credit—have saved Georgia taxpayers between $605 and $1.1 billion through the 2018 fiscal year. That translates to between $4,355 and $8,013 in taxpayer savings per student participating in the programs.

Buzz - edu media statement

Georgia Center for Opportunity’s take:

 “There is a falsehood out there that if we expand access to different educational options for Georgia families we’ll end up hurting traditional public schools. Data like this from EdChoice clearly show this isn’t the case,” said Buzz Brockway, GCO’s vice president of public policy. “Our toxic political environment sets up a false dichotomy between giving families a choice in education and supporting traditional public schools. Our state can do both. In fact, if our goal is to do what’s best for students and families, then we must do both: Have properly funded and supported traditional public schools while providing options for families who need a different environment for their children to best thrive.”

 

School choice should be an easy choice | Gainesville Times

School choice should be an easy choice | Gainesville Times

In The News

School choice should be an easy choice | Gainesville Times

Schools are not one size fits all and school choice is a freedom that all should have. According to the Georgia Center for Opportunity, the goal of school choice is to ensure that all families have options when it comes to quality education for their child whether that be public, private, homeschool, or even online and hybrid options.

Unfortunately, in most cases, the opportunity for school choice is weighed heavily on where a family lives. It is unfair and unreasonable to expect that a family move to or live out of their means in an affluent neighborhood, requiring them to pay hefty mortgages in order to send their child to the school of their choice in that area…

Read the full article here

Education Disruption

Education Disruption

Education Disruption

middle school charter school

The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted many things here in America. As every parent knows, one of the major disruptions took place in the realm of education. News has been coming out that among the disruptions in education has been the number of parents choosing to homeschool their kids. Now, we’re not talking about the quasi-homeschooling that all kids experienced when their schools closed and all the kids went to Zoom School. We’re talking about folks who have decided to unenroll their students from public or private school and teach their children themselves, most using a curriculum and resources crafted for homeschooling.

In March, the Census Bureau released results of their Household Pulse Survey. The Survey said…

By fall, 11.1% of households with school-age children reported homeschooling (Sept. 30-Oct. 12). A clarification was added to the school enrollment question to make sure households were reporting true homeschooling rather than virtual learning through a public or private school.

That change represents an increase of 5.6 percentage points and a doubling of U.S. households that were homeschooling at the start of the 2020-2021 school year compared to the prior year. 

In Georgia, the Survey additionally reported that a staggering 16% of households were homeschooling last fall. This is also the number of African-American households homeschooling nationwide (up from 3% pre-pandemic!). It will be interesting to see if data for the 2021-2022 school year reflects a return to public and private schools as school buildings reopen, or if these parents decide to continue homeschooling.

The reasons people choose homeschooling vary. Joyce Burgess of the National Black Homeschool Association explains why some African-Americans are choosing to homeschool: 

They’re making these conclusions that peer pressure, they don’t have to be bothered with unnecessary racism, they don’t have to be bothered with bullying, they don’t have to be bothered with negative peer pressure. Some parents have chosen to bring their children home because the virtual setting, some parents just aren’t able to navigate that,” said Burgess.

A recent guest post in Bari Weiss’ Substack provides further insight to why some parents chose homeschooling 

When the covid lockdowns hit in March 2020 — in a matter of a few weeks, some 124,000 public and private schools with 55.1 million students shut down  American families suddenly had to adjust to school-via-screen.

The parents weren’t just upset about all the screen time their kids were logging. They were upset about what they saw on those screens. For the first time, millions of moms and dads could watch, in real time, their children’s teachers teaching.

It was a moment of “parent empowerment,” said Kerry McDonald, a senior fellow at the libertarian Foundation for Economic Education. That’s one way to put it. 

Here’s another: “My kindergartener was getting maybe twenty minutes of instruction per day,” said Pauline, a house cleaner in Durham, North Carolina, who prefers using only her middle name to stay anonymous. 

Pauline and her child lasted about two weeks in remote school before she decided it was a waste of everyone’s time. After a summer of lockdown, Pauline opted for a “homeschool co-op” with four other families. She was planning to send her now seven-year-old back to public school this year. “Being isolated made my kid miserable,” she said. “And I like public school. I was excited to send my kid there.”

The Delta variant, combined with her husband’s asthma, and the fact that there is no vaccine requirement for teachers in her district threw a wrench in that plan. What started as a short-term solution has morphed into a new normal. 

As my colleague Jamie Lord and I recently discussed, this demonstrates the real beauty of the concept of school choice: whether you want kids masked, or unmasked, have your school teach a certain curriculum or not, all parents, no matter their income status or location, should have choices in how and where their kid is educated.  

We at the Georgia Center for Opportunity will continue to fight for the right of all parents to choose the best method of educating their children. 

 

Origins of the Georgia Center for Opportunity: Why we focus on education

Origins of the Georgia Center for Opportunity: Why we focus on education

Origins of the Georgia Center for Opportunity: Why we focus on education

HS students

If you’ve been following the work and mission of the Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO), you’ve probably heard us talk about the Success Sequence. It’s a proven model to alleviate poverty that says a good education leads to a stable job, which in turn leads to stronger families that provide the best context for individuals to reach their God-given potential and build thriving communities.  

This is why GCO has long focused on expanding educational opportunities as the key to changing lives and breaking the cycle of generational poverty that has trapped far too many—for far too long.  

Even in the mid-1990s—when we first got involved with charter school legislation—we were keenly aware that while some Georgia students had access to excellent education opportunities, most living in low-income areas did not. And tragically, it’s the kids from low-income families who most often are stuck in failing public schools—setting them up for a lifetime of failure and dependency.

Fast forward to 2007, when GCO played a key role in building on the charter school law to create the Georgia Special Needs Scholarship Program. As Georgia’s first private choice program, these scholarships allow families to send their special needs children to schools that best meet their academic needs. And the growth of the Special Needs Scholarship has been impressive. As of the 2019-2020 school year, there were 5,203 students in 254 schools across Georgia benefitting from the program—with vouchers averaging $6,838 per student. 

The following year, we were instrumental in working with state legislators to pass the Georgia Qualified Education Expense Tax Credit. This program offers tax credits to corporate and individual donors supporting nonprofit student scholarship organizations (SSOs) that provide private school scholarships to students in need. Now a $100 million program, it, too, has been widely embraced—enabling many children from low-income, working-class, and minority families to attend private schools to better meet their academic needs. As of 2019, 22 SSOs have awarded 16,358 scholarships averaging $4,560—representing 38% of public school spending per student. 

 

 

The Success Sequence provides an outline of how to reverse the cycle of poverty in our communities. GCO uses this as a framework for much of our work.

Beyond our schools, GCO has also been a key player for many years to help adults get the training they need to enter the workforce—and stay employed. Through various apprenticeship programs and our Hiring Well, Doing Good (HWDG) program—now called Better Work—we continue to focus on ensuring that students and job seekers have the tools they need to land a job that meets the demands of a rapidly changing workforce. Unique among back-to-work programs, Better Work is a catalyst connecting employers to local and state chambers of commerce, vocational colleges, nonprofits, and churches.

While there’s no doubt that GCO has played a key leadership role in removing barriers so that every person—no matter their race, past mistakes, or birth circumstances—has access to a quality education, fulfilling work, and a healthy family life, there’s still more to do. 

Looking forward, we will continue to call for further expansion of the tax-credit and special needs scholarship programs, which transform lives and are widely embraced by Georgians regardless of socioeconomic status, race, zip code, and political affiliation. 

And we will keep pressing for Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), which would offer much-needed flexibility and assistance to students from low-income families, those adopted from foster care, children of active duty military, students with an Individualized Education Program, and those with a documented history of being bullied.

The good news is that Georgians from all backgrounds are clamoring for more educational options. And if there’s a bright spot to the pandemic, it’s that parents—and legislators alike—are more open than ever to creative solutions that provide more quality education options that put people on the path to success for life. 

One recent example is federal funding through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEERS), which provides assistance to local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, and other education related entities impacted by the coronavirus. This includes providing child care and early childhood education, social and emotional support, and protection for education-related jobs.

The bottom line is that people want more freedom. And it is education that opens doors to fulfilling work, which impacts individuals for the rest of their life—the Success Sequence in a nutshell.