The past few weeks have been hard for me. A number of concerning news stories have come out, and I believe they all share a common thread:
There have been so many articles written about the “financial distress” facing public schools, and they are now making “King Solomon-like” decisions. Have you figured out the common thread yet? It’s that the system is irretrievably broken. why else would a school district such as Atlanta Public Schools not allow the most successful charter school in the city to try and replicate its success at the high school level? The graduation rate of its students is more than 20 percentage points higher than APS, yet the Superintendent has rejected its expansion plans. Making draconian cuts as stated in the above stories is NOT the answer.
This is not a liberal or conservative problem, this is a bi-partisan problem. When school districts such as Atlanta Public Schools spend more than $15K per pupil, yet graduate barely more than half of them, it is clear that money is not the problem. Dekalb County, the 3rd largest school district in the state of Georgia, feels that it needs to RAISE property taxes to go along with a series of budget cuts. More money is not going to solve the problem. Our public education system has been badly managed, and reluctant to change, when the world has changed around it. And it’s our precious children that have been made to suffer.
Georgia’s public education woes are not unique to Georgia. It’s time for all parties to sit down and realize that the system is not working, and doesn’t just need “tweaking,” but a massive overhaul. We need to change course, and fast. I say this from the point of view of a strategist and has looked at the problems facing public education objectively. I am not some “school choice” lobbyist, nor am I a mouthpiece for any special interest group. I support innovation in education and believe that we must change our approach before we lose a generation of talent and put our economic competitiveness at risk.
So when will our politicians, educators and parents get angry and start collaborating on real solutions to our education challenges? The time is NOW.