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Open Letter from an Ivy Prep 7th Grader

A seventh grader wants to know what happened to education being "all about the children."

By Autumn Smith

My name is Autumn Smith. I am a 7th grade scholar at Ivy Preparatory Academy at Kirkwood. I recently attended the Georgia Black Caucus-Annual Legislative Conference.  As the meeting began, I had respect for all of the adults there; I looked up to each and every one of them. Sadly, I have to say my perspective changed.

First I’d like to tell my story. I live in a neighborhood where the behavior, education, and parent resources aren’t up to the standards I have been taught to expect. Therefore, I went in search of a good school. I found Clifton Elementary, which is a technology magnet school. While I was there, my grades rose and I felt happy and confident about my school. I went to Clifton from 3rd grade all the way to 5th grade. After I left Elementary school, I realized I was zoned to attend Columbia Middle School. Columbia Middle School is half magnet program half resident. But, the school itself has gangs, drugs, and abuse going on inside the school.  Luckily, the summer before I started middle school, I found out about Ivy Preparatory Academy-Kirkwood.  After learning about the school, I decided it was the right choice for me. Now this is the second year that my school has been open. We are growing strong and will continue to grow strong. I’m not going to let anyone get in the way of my education and future.

Back to the caucus meeting, all I kept hearing from the adults was, “It’s all about the children”.  It kept running through my head if it is all about the children tell me why we argue, and fuss about our schools. We should all have a common goal to give children the proper education they need to have a bright future. I stood up and got in line to ask a question to the panelists. “Why were our tax dollars being spent to train teachers how NOT to vote for the charter schools amendment?” The moderator for the evening decided that my question should not be asked.  Nobody could tell me why tax dollars are being used to teach people not to stand up for my education. If it was “all about the children,” why were they trying to make me be quiet and not answer my question?

Just recently, I saw a screening of a movie called “Won’t Back Down” it was about a school that was underperforming and how parents did not just sit there and wait for change. They stood up and made a difference in their school, and community. Neither can I wait for a change.  I’m not going to sit back, relax, and wait for change that might not come until my grandchild is in school. I want change, and I want it now.  I deserve to have a choice in what school I want to be in.  I just don’t understand what the problem is if charter schools are performing better than other schools, when being funded less, then why can’t people see that Choice is important.

I want to end on a positive note.  If it’s going to be all about kids, let’s listen to what they have to say. Charter school is a very important word in my life right now, and here are the reasons why…

  1. Choice, I have the choice to choose what school, education, and type of education I want. Whether from a book, lecture, hands-on, or writing.
  2. Harmony, for once everyone works together teachers, parents, scholars as we like to call our students, faculty, and staff. 
  3. A Academics, Academics is the most important thing in a charter school ours are definitely onboard.
  4. Radical, we teach in different ways but our students are top notch the best of the best.
  5. T Training, we make sure our teachers have the proper training, and knowledge to teach our students.
  6. E Encouragement, what I like most about my school, is that not what situation I’m in everyone love and supports me. They tell me no matter what keep pressing on, your worth more than you could ever imagine.
  7. R Resources, my school has provided me with outstanding resources– everything I could ever need to be successful in everything I do.   

Now, who are the adults that want to help me continue with the great school I have found?  I thank you all for helping me keep my school.

Elizabeth Hooper September 22, 2012 at 01:23 PM
Dear Autumn, You are obviously a very articulate and courageous young lady who is committed to learning. I applaud your willingness to speak out. Many other parents and taxpayers have the same concerns as you do. How is any of this polarizing discussion over the constitutional amendment about educating our kids? I have questions also and have been trying to get answers; here are some: 1) Why do we need another appointed committee/commission to listen to charter school appeals when we alrady have a law in Georgia which allows charter petitioners to appeal to the State BOE (appointed with 13 members), with review by another Charter Advisory Committee ( 9 appointed members)? 2) Why is it a good idea to pass this amendment which permits charter petitioners to declare a state-wide attendance zone and by pass a local board entirely? 3) Why should anyone, give up their constitutional right to have an elected school board member, accountable to them, make decisions about what is best for their local community? Those of us who are opposed to this amendment do not think it's about improving education for all of Georgia's children. That is why we are trying so hard to get answers. All children will pay the price if our legislators and the out-side groups they are trying so hard to please aren't more honest and cooperative with the educators, parents, and taxpayers of Georgia. Good luck with your studies and let's all keep asking lots of questions.
Tris Sicignano October 18, 2012 at 06:22 PM
1. Because counties like Unincoprated Dekalb where this child attends school are FAILING! Because these districts have a history of declining viable charters for no apparent reason. 2. The amendment WILL NOT allow charter petitioners to bypass their local boards. The petitioner must 1st apply locally if denied they may submit the exact same charter petition to the state. No changes are allowed. 3. Ever heard of bait and switch. People who run for office usually stick to what they said during the campaign (eyes rolling). And when you have lame duck school board members with their eye on another political prize, I say yes. Children deserve backup. Too many adults are playing political games at the expense of children. If you think that someone isn't making money off of the current education system then you should take another look.
mwhite90 October 24, 2012 at 12:03 PM
As a parent and educator I feel that parents should have the right to choose there child's education but at the same time I don't think that we should point fingers saying that public schools are giving bad education. Autumn stated that her grades and her outlook on education changed once she enrolled at Clifton Elementary which is a public school. So the let's us know that some public schools are offering and providing a great education. When we look at the big picture there are bad schools in the public, private and charter schools. So as a community we must come together to make choices that will benefit our children in order to make all education a great one.

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