Education advocate: Rural Georgia families need Promise Scholarships
Rural families in Georgia, like mine, don’t always have access to educational options. Promise Scholarships would fix this inequity.
My family moved to Burke County six years ago. My husband and I have two children, both withIndividualized Education Plansfor special needs. My daughter has dyslexia and dysgraphia, while my son has mild autism, Tourette Syndrome, ADHD, dyslexia and severe dysgraphia.
For the past five years, I’ve been fighting for my children every single day in the local public school system. Unfortunately, children in Burke County with special needs don’t always have access to the help they desperately need.
I began my fight by advocating on behalf of my daughter. Although she had an IEP, she continued to fall behind in reading and writing. I was able to convince the school district to purchase theBarton Reading Programfor my daughter. I wanted all students with reading challenges to have access to the program. When this program wasn’t implemented with fidelity, she was able to access tutoring that would support her needs. She remains in the public school but only because we have advocated every step of the way.
The story with my son has been more challenging. He would routinely come home from school with tears in his eyes, saying the school wasn’t treating him fairly. In digging more, I discovered they were not implementing his IEP as written but were putting pressure on my son to perform outside of the accommodations that were agreed upon. It caused a lot of meltdowns and angst.
The situation eventually became so severe that he began self-harm. That progression broke my heart because he is a good kid. He’s not aggressive. He’s not violent. But the pressures the school system put on him caused him to hurt himself.
For his own safety, we decided that he needed to be homeschooled. But what many people don’t realize is that home education is anything but cheap. My son has so many needs that we simply can’t pay for. He requires specialized therapies that our budget won’t allow for right now.
That’s wherePromise Scholarshipscome in. These accounts would provide up to $6,000 a year for families like mine to devote to a flexible menu of education options, such as occupational, speech or other therapies for special needs, tutoring assistance or homeschool co-ops that would help my son socialize and connect with other young people his age. Traditional vouchers that are available in Georgia right now wouldn’t work for our situation. Promise Scholarships would. I think many rural families are in the same boat.
It’s time for Georgia’s General Assembly to pass this legislation. Many other states have recently expanded school choice options to help families who have struggled during the pandemic with learning loss. We can’t afford to wait any longer.
There are so many other families like mine in Burke County. We basically have no school choice here, as the only private schools around do not have special educators or services and our closest charter school is 35 minutes away. Home education is our best option so that we can tailor an education to the unique needs of our children. Promise Scholarships would provide the type of resources to ensure that our children are not left behind.