Fulton recognizes parent demand for choice and plans to offer more. Good idea?

Even bereft its ambitious superintendent, the Fulton County School System is still proceeding with an ambitious plan to offer a wider range of education options.

Superintendent Robert Avossa is leaving the 96,000-student district for the larger Palm Beach County system in Florida. Ken Zeff, who takes over as interim superintendent next week, shares Avossa’s view that parents want and deserve choices.

An array of choices may lessen the exodus of by parents who want a non-traditional setting for their children. More than 15 percent of Fulton families opted for private schools this school year.

While Fulton has increased its number of district-approved charter schools, the AJC reports more than 1,600 families are on charter school wait lists for next fall, largely in south Fulton where school performance is not as high as north Fulton.

(North Fulton is one of the state’s most affluent areas and boasts some of the highest achieving high schools in Georgia. Its schools are a major draw for new families moving to the metro region.)

Are students spending too much time trapped in their desks listening?

Not every student learns in the same way so Fulton is expanding school design options.

“This is not an attempt to dismantle traditional public schools,” said Zeff in an AJC news story by Fulton Schools reporter Rose French. “Traditional-model schools are performing great for a lot of kids. But some parents want and some students would do better in a different environment.”

I believe public school choice is a vital issue, but understand it is far easier in a larger district with ample resources and strong parental interest. Fulton seems an ideal candidate, as does DeKalb, which was an early pioneer of theme schools in Georgia.

As French reports:

Among the proposals are Montessori schools and dual-language immersion schools, where students from kindergarten through eighth grade can learn another language. Fulton is also looking to partner with a major local university to create an early honors college program that would provide an opportunity for the brightest students to get college credit.

Fulton hopes to have the schools running by fall 2016 and is creating them now, with board members expected to iron out plans this summer. The proposed schools are in addition to the magnet, charter and other alternatives Fulton currently offers. The school district wants to keep more families from leaving the public school system, as some in Fulton have done.

“Fulton County schools are in the midst of one of the more aggressive efforts of its kind in Georgia to provide school choice options for students,” said Louis Erste, associate superintendent for charter schools with the Georgia Department of Education.

Under the proposed initiative outlined at a recent school board meeting, Fulton is looking to create three dual-language immersion K-8 schools in the central, northeast and northwest areas of the district. Two Montessori schools serving K-5 students are also being proposed for the central and northeast areas.

The Early Honors College, which could be located on the college campus Fulton ends up partnering with, would offer increased academic rigor for high-performing students for entry into the University System of Georgia. Fulton leaders say a significant number of students are prepared to enter that system.

The district doesn’t know yet how much extra the proposed choice schools might cost, though they expect additional funding may be needed for the Montessori model development.

What is not envisioned in the school choice initiative: adding private school vouchers, removing attendance boundaries or creating countywide transportation to the new schools.

Education scholars say lack of transportation for students outside the immediate vicinity of the schools could be an obstacle to equity.

“If you provide busing, it becomes much more expensive,” said Ron Zimmer, associate professor of public policy and education at Vanderbilt University. “If you don’t provide transportation, then they’re basically saying those who don’t have a car can’t really make these choices. You’re making it a disadvantage for those who are less affluent.”

Fulton is trying to provide school choice options to all regions of the district to avoid potential inequities and intentionally rolling out the new options slowly to see what works and what may not, Zeff said.

Reader Comments 0

52 comments
BCW1
BCW1

One of the byproducts of all these choices is parent entitlement and not taking no for an answer. It is difficult for schools to be all things to all people.

anothercomment
anothercomment

As a resident and owner of a house in Sandy Springs who bought a House in the Heards Ferrry Zoning and thought I could send my child to middle then High school in Fulton, what Homeowners want is a Safe School system. My immediate neighborhood of 50-54 year old houses from $450- $839k which is off Lake Forrest is composed of Asian and White families has zero families this year sending any children to Fulton County Middle Schools or High Schools. We have a couple of kids still in Heards Ferry. Then we have a family using the other parents residence in Atlanta to go to Sutton and Jackson. Absolutely, no one on the four streets of the subdivision where everyone is paying between $5,600 and $10,000 in property taxes to Fulton County is sending a single one of their children to Ridgeview or Riverwood High Schools anymore.

The reason? It is not safe for a white or Asian child to attend a school in Fulton County where they are in the minority and bullied for being smart. Where they are bullied for having values that value school. Even thought Sandy Springs is over 64-67% white and 30342 has one of the highest incomes. The Public schools are only 24% white two years ago ( declining ) and 74% free lunch. Odd thing is none of the white children where on Free lunch. The problem is as the Sandy Springs police publish 5% of the land area of Sandy Springs is Class C apartments which account for 90% of the Police and Fire calls. These same apartments also account for about $100 or less per year in property taxes ( I looked them up, they are shown with values of like $24,000 a unit), and send students who are bullies and thugs to our schools.

I tried to send my children to these schools. The middle school was horrible land of bullies and gangs. Frightening experiencing for my child. Now I have to send my child to a private school as does everyone of my neighbors. By the way we are at the bottom of the price point for our neighborhood

Starik
Starik

@anothercomment I feel your pain. Going to a school with mainstream culture benefits poor children and does no harm to mainstream kids - the problem arises when so many poor kids attend a school that their culture predominates. The poor kids do not get exposure to the way mainstream kids live because those kids are driven out, except for those who can't leave.

ATLPeach
ATLPeach

@Starik @anothercomment  Hmmm...you almost had me, until you made it about race. We have experienced the same thing in my South Fulton community. They have built at least 4 apartment complexes within 5 miles of each other. What were once great schools, are now unsafe schools. It's so terrible that I won't send my kids to them either. Many of my neighbors, that moved into the community because the schools were listed as "distinguished" are now sending their kids to private schools as well. I'm black and so are most of my neighbors. Homes in my subdivision range from the mid 200's to the low 400s. Middle class folks that are educated and want the best for their kids. Even in the more expensive neighborhoods around the corner, they are opting for private school. This is not about being black or white. All white kids are not well behaved and serious about education. I have family and friends that teach in North Fulton. They tell me they've been called a "b" by white students, how students use profanity in their faces, talk back, parents can't control them, etc. Kids are kids no matter the race. It is more about socio-economics. However, it's much easier to just say it's about black people isn't it?

living-in-outdated-ed
living-in-outdated-ed

I am so glad that Ken is the interim Superintendent.  He is a good man, a smart man, who wants what's best for our kids' education.  Fulton has done a stellar job under Avossa's leadership, and I see no reason why it won't continue to run a successful school system and continue to innovate wisely and aggressively.

popacorn
popacorn

To the steal your boots crowd - You really don't need to be having so many kids in the first place. Why should you conceive and leave at every available opportunity? It's child abuse. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

To the pull yourself up by your bootstraps crowd- Why should you care about public school? 


Surely if a poor single mom with no car and working two jobs can find find a way to get her kids across town to a better public school, help them with homework, and provide them with tutoring(a third job maybe?), THEN you and others like you can surely pull yourself up to afford The Westminster Schools, move to Buckhead and make your kids work hard enough to all become valedictorians. 


I know you can - I saw you driving across town to eat at a fancy restaurant.. Bootstrap yourself into wealth and private schooldom and quit whining. If you are accessing public schools, you must be a parasite because you could surely ratchet yourself up a couple of levels and pay for your kids schooling. 

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

FIX..... let parents take their Property Taxes going to Socialist Government schools and use that money to select any Public or Private school to send their children too(work hard and make more money to make up the difference in cost if education is really important).....CAPITALISM....the American Way. Bad schools DIE and uninformed parents can keep their kids DUMB and the students that want to be DUMB can stay that way.... Freedom of CHOICE...or...Pro FUTURE LIFE.  

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@POAD5150 Sounds great. How much do you pay in school taxes?  How many kids do you have?


I pay less than $300 per year, and I had 3 kids.  For $100 per year, how much "choice" do I have?


Or do you really want OTHER PEOPLE to pay for your kids?  YOU had them, YOU pay for them.


Oh, and those dumb people with their dumb kids?  You and your kids will be paying for them forever.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@Wascatlady I have ZERO CHILDREN but I and my parents PAID a lot to educate yours and many others.

My parents paid for 1 child to attend Govt.Socialist schools for only 6 years. I stated Private school in 7th grade & both of my sisters NEVER STEPPED FOOT in government schools.  

We will be paying for Dumb kids from Cradle to Prison for many of them.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@POAD5150 Yeah, and another thing, quit having that government supplied water. If you want it bad enough, you can dig a well in your yard with a shovel. Dadgum socialist water treatment plants.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

IF the citizens are happy, and IF it is not starving the traditional schools and IF in doing they are not shutting out poor kids and becoming exclusionary schools, I would not worry.  Lots of IFs.

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady



Shutting out poor kids and becoming exclusionary? We can settle that "if" right here:



"Can charter schools select their students?

Charter schools, as public schools, must adhere to the same open admission and enrollment standards as traditional public schools. With the exception of certain allowable admissions preferences, charter schools may not select their students, nor deny admission to any applicant provided that there is space for that student within the school’s capacity."


That is straight from the GaDOE website (https://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/Charter-Schools/Pages/Frequently-Asked-Questions-for-Parents-and-Community.aspx)


As far as starving traditional schools, they educate the EXACT SAME number of students that the tradional schools would have if their students went there,but they do it for less. In fact, the case can be made that charter schools are getting a raw deal on funding:


http://www.uaedreform.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/charter-funding-inequity-expands-ga.pdf




OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@Astropig @ScienceTeacher671 @Wascatlady 

Many of those parents in South Fulton don't have a car. They work more than one job.  So does everyone around them. No-one can arrange a car-pool. You seem to  assume that everyone has access to and time for transportation. That really is middle-class.

Astropig
Astropig

@POAD5150 @OriginalProf


POAD- Agree. I rubbed elbows with legions of people in the same socio-economic strata as SF in a former career and believe me, when they want something badly enough,they'll find a way to make it happen.The whole idea of "choice" means that they can "choose" to send their kids to a school that will pick them up and drop them off every day. They can keep them in their zip code school if free transportation is that important.

Astropig
Astropig

@OriginalProf @Astropig @ScienceTeacher671 @Wascatlady


We send buses for kids every single school day and a lot of them (and their parents) don't give two hoots. I say reward the ambitious,industrious ones so that they can learn,prosper and get good jobs so that they can support the ones that won't even TRY to obtain a good education.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@Astropig i see kids on the bus at 5:15 am in So. Fulton to head to the otherside of town because they want to go to a better school. I HATE they have to do that but the schools in their community SUCK and the Parents and Students in their home school area don't give a damn to make it better. 

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @ScienceTeacher671 @Wascatlady


Yeah.  So what if they are working two jobs to put food on the table, and if they have no car.  If they really wanted what is best for their kids they would find a way.  (sarcasm) 


Getting an "item" you want now and then is not the same as being able to transport your child to and from school every day morning and afternoon.  I work with many families just like this and the majority of them care very much  about their kids education - however, they face difficulties that are not as easy to overcome as you seem to think.  Those who expose the whole "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" approach have rarely had to do so themselves.  Far easier said than done.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@ATLPeach sounds like you are PROVING our point. WHY don't So Fulton parents CARE MORE and work to get their kids to be and do better? Could it be because now they view the schools as babysitters more than educators?

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@Mandella88 Jesus didn't say he would GIVE them a better school without their commitment to make it happen.  

Mandella88
Mandella88

@POAD5150 @Mandella88

Keep telling yourself this if you want to - I'm sure that on your last day you'll look back and be proud that you put this in black and white for all of the world to see....

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@Mandella88 I didn't use a TERRORIST'S name as my blog name(Mandela) like you did. I'm settled with what my last days will bring me are you so sure about your last days? 

Mandella88
Mandella88

@POAD5150 @Mandella88

I didn't use a "terrorist's" name either.  You would think that with all of that time you spend  on the internet, you would realize that other people are named Mandella (with two L's by the way).  You may want to cancel your membership to Stormfront, leave your parent's basement, and come out into the light.


You last day, however, will be answering how you treated certain children as it relates to this major point:

"whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me"


I'm sure you know this, right?

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@Mandella88 Many names are used on this blog. Sorry if that is your real name and not a bastardization of the African Terrorists because his name was already used. 

That still will not save your soul. 

The number in heaven are numbered like the hairs on your head and i know them all.

Mandella88
Mandella88

@POAD5150 @Mandella88

Nooooo!  The Keyboard Kowboy got me!  You win, you rascal!  We should only let certain children into certain schools.  Of course, your Biblical quite implies that you see yourself as God and knowing all.  Everyone on this blog knows THAT'S not true!


By the way, you do know that I was responding to Astropig's (A.Pig - Get it!) comment not yours, right?  Of course, maybe you and him are married or something - maybe that's why you are so quick to defend him...

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

HAHA no my post was a counter bible quote to your bible quote. I'm far from GOD and from my last post you should understand that...well i'm not surprised you missed the TRUTH in my statement. WHO do you know that doesn't think they are going to HEAVEN? Who in your life do think isn't in HEAVEN? Well the numbers don't add up and many of your and my Loved Ones are in HELL. That is a FACT if you believe the scriptures. 

The KINGDOM of HEAVEN was not build in this world... to also respond to me putting in print for the world to see. 

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@Mandella88 JESUS Loves the children..Yes even the Suicide bombers that ALLAH has corrupted but that doesn't mean they have a place in HEAVEN.

Astropig
Astropig

@Quidocetdiscit @Astropig @ScienceTeacher671 @Wascatlady


I can assure you that when they get their first (and second and third) job, their employer will not be sending free transportation for them to make sure that they attend. But by then,the schools will have washed their hands of them,having made them dependent and helpless because people like you wouldn't push them to achieve, while providing ready made excuses for their (and by extension your) failure. Why don't you just admit that you don't believe in these kids potential enough to help them realize it? I believe that their ceiling is sky high. If it takes a little extra effort on their part and their parents part,then we should at least give them the opportunity.


(No sarcasm,just realism)

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@Astropig @Quidocetdiscit @ScienceTeacher671 @Wascatlady


People like me... wouldn't push them to achieve?  Don't believe in their potential?


Hmmm.  And when was the last time YOU taught in a classroom?  


When was the last time YOU worked late with no pay to tutor children for free?  


When was the last time YOU bought a child school supplies so they could do the work required of them? 


When was the last time YOU paid for a child's medical care so they could come to school?


When was the last time YOU personally drove to pick up a child and transport them to school because he/she could not make it otherwise?



Thought so.


"People like me" do that and much more, but somehow YOU are more concerned about them because you insist their parents should somehow be able to manage to provide daily transportation.


Right.

ScienceTeacher671
ScienceTeacher671

@Astropig @Wascatlady Not providing transportation for those in the south end of the county is a form of exclusion to begin with...and one reason the costs are lower.

OriginalProf
OriginalProf

@POAD5150 @OriginalProf 

Oh?  And do you lack a car, and work 2-3 jobs?  Only if that's your case can  you presume to speak for S. Fulton parents who are in that situation.

ATLPeach
ATLPeach

@POAD5150 @ATLPeach  Reading is fundamental. Your point is far from proven. To lump all South Fulton parents into one category is unfair. There are many of us that work hard to ensure our kids are well prepared for school. You choose to believe what you want regardless of the facts presented.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Astropig @Wascatlady Not providing transportation is exclusionary.  Not providing needed Sped/ESOL services is exclusionary. Requiring an application in advance is exclusionary.  How the word gets out about a special school opportunity can be exclusionary.

Astropig
Astropig

@Wascatlady @Astropig


Non-Sense. Not getting a good education when one is readily available will be the most exclusionary thing these kids will ever experience.They''ll be excluded from good jobs, good economic circumstances and most likely, their kids will too.


Again, they can choose to stay in their bad schools if all they value is a free ride back and forth every day.

ATLPeach
ATLPeach

@Astropig @POAD5150 @OriginalProf  First, please stop speaking for all South Fulton parents. South Fulton is FULL of middle to upper middle class families. I live next door to a doctor that owns his own practice, two doors down is a successful author,a business owner lives across the street, and I am an educator. At one time Randolph, Sandtown, and Westlake could rival many North Fulton schools. Fulton county allowed developers to build 4 large apartment complexes within 5 miles of each other. That has really had an impact on the community. Those that live in South Fulton wanted to send their kids to those schools. I can recall attending PTA meetings at Randolph that were standing room only. It's unfortunate that even those among us don't really know what is going on. There are many dedicated parents in my neighborhood. Most are educated professionals. My neighborhood is far from exclusive. There are many subdivisions around me that have very expensive homes. The parents have begun sending their kids to private school. I am one of them. I moved into the area for the schools, and 10 years later, I want to move out. As an educator, I have no way of getting my kids to school across town and get to work on time. I have a 7:30 am reporting time. My hubby gets to work even earlier. How Fulton will handle the issue of kids not being able to get to a school without bus transportation will be interesting. The truth is Fulton County isn't really concerned with South Fulton schools. Just look at the buildings. South Fulton schools are all identical. North Fulton schools are the Taj Mahal of public schools. It's ridiculous. Now they want to offer choice, but build it in North Fulton. Yeah...smh!

Astropig
Astropig

@ScienceTeacher671 @Astropig @Wascatlady


Sorry, I see it another way. If they are not motivated enough to get their kids to where it will do them the most good, then they probably not going to benefit from the charter experience anyway. It's probably better for everyone that they don't attend. A good education is a gift from society.It's up to them if they accept it.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@OriginalProf I live in So. Fulton so don't sell me a bag of crap and call it Rose Food. Those PARENTS can find away to get the "ITEMS" They WANT when they "NEED" them. if their kids education mattered more they would find a way just like they find a way for things they "NEED".

HollyJones
HollyJones

Why are none of these options going to the south end of the county? If I were a south Fulton resident, I might feel somewhat slighted.  


And while I understand the expense of offering transportation to theses centers, that does limit participation, particularly for those students who might most benefit from them.  Not to paint with a broad brush, but the North Fulton kids probably don't need quite as much "enrichment" as their neighbors on the south end of the county.  

teachermom4
teachermom4

@HollyJones I was thinking the same thing. If the purpose of choice is to increase positive educational outcomes, why not offer the choices in the communities that need it most? I have no problems with the offerings; I just wonder why they are all centered in areas that have less need of improvement and have more opportunities for enrichment outside of school.

REGAN1966
REGAN1966

@HollyJones is part of that the difference in commitment of the PARENTS and not just based on money?

Happy Hippie
Happy Hippie

@HollyJones I live in North Fulton and sent my son to a charter school. Our zoned public school isn't terrible, but it wasn't coming close to meeting his educational needs (he is in 1st grade and recently tested at a 7th grade level for math and ELA). Should I have kept my kid at a public school where he was bullied until he developed stomach ulcers and where he was told to sit at the back of the classroom and read quietly because the teachers had nothing to teach him? Where the teachers used their fancy smart boards to show the kids cartoons (not even educational ones, to make it worse) for an hour or more every day?  No way. So I got up early and drove 40 minutes to charter school every day, where he THRIVED. Unfortunately his school's charter was revoked this year (school admin was shady as hell, but the education was excellent) so it's back to public school next year. I would love to have a better choice.

GT_Grad!
GT_Grad!

@HollyJones  There are 2 high school charters that were appoved by the BOE for South Fulton. One is a dual enrollment-type HS with college opportunities and the other is a HS designed for students who have either dropped out or are at risk of dropping out (offers flexible scheduling, different types of instruction including online). The latter is not designed for students to stay forever; just to catch up with remedial skills so that they can return to their home school. Both of these are start-up charter schools proposed by individuals outside the school system, and both are slated to open in July 2016.

FritzA
FritzA

What parents are asking for this other than possibly south county?  Was there a general questionnaire that went out that I missed?  And BTW - Broad Foundation superintendents, like Avossa, are NEVER missed, and we are definitely not "bereft" about  him leaving.  His Broad philosophy that calls for "chaos and churn" has led to exactly that in the Fulton County Schools.  Massive turn over of experienced teachers and administrators and all the bad atmosphere that has resulted from that is why parents are leaving for private schools - not because they need more choice. 

anothercomment
anothercomment

Here here you are correct ! Avossa was a big jerk. He was guilty of age discrimination. The county is lucky that they did not get hit with a rath of age discrimination suits, with the way that Avossa blatantly moved out and by passed highly qualified teachers and administrators in favor of his pliable minions.

The whole Riverwood Principal dibacle and lawsuit has yet to play out. The DA refused to prosecute Eddie. It was so transparent that Avossa just wanted to hand the Keys to the IB school over to his Buddy from Charlotte. Yet, that guy fled back to Charlotte when he found it was not a 100% selective school like he had come from you had to deal with the Hispanics , and black underachievers.

MajorDowning
MajorDowning

It's going to be hard for those 1600 families if they choose to be annexed into Atlanta. LMAO