The public school system in the United States has been designed as a one-size-fits-all approach that inhibits many students from reaching their full potential. While public schools are the right choice for many students, many others need a different learning environment. The public school system has failed to provide individualized learning solutions for these students. Educational choice presents an alternative: providing parents with the freedom to decide which school system would be most beneficial for their student.
Georgia Center for Opportunity (GCO) has seen the need for educational choice in their communities. The majority of educational decisions are currently made by politicians and bureaucrats, rather than by parents and students. The students affected by this the most are special needs students, students held back because of their socio-economic situation, and those catching up from the learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. There is a lack of flexibility and accommodation for these students, and parents are often unable to work with educators to make the choices that would allow their child to reach their full learning potential. The team at GCO is working to empower families to make independent decisions and allow their children to thrive in the system best suited for them.
“A child can’t succeed without a good education. But a good education is impossible without options that fit the needs of each unique, individual student,” said Corey Burres, GCO’s vice president of communications. “Lack of access to quality education is keeping generations of people stuck in poverty. Educational access should be for everyone, not just the elite who can afford it. Here in Georgia, we are determined to create a system where educational access is open to all. We are working to break down barriers and promote policies that open access. And we are sharing the stories of those being left out when educational access isn’t provided.”
GCO is working to create a broad-based Educational Savings Account (ESA) program that would give parents the best opportunity to find the right environment for their student to succeed. This account would allow for a portion of the money the state spends per student to be distributed to individual families to spend on a school system of their choice. Rather than directly funneling all the money into the K–12 public school system, the parents would have the freedom to choose where their student is educated, whether that is at the public school, a private school, or an alternative option. Georgia Center for Opportunity is advancing this project through statewide polling on the support of school choice, a cohesive digital and media campaign to engage advocates and build public support, and attending school board meetings to discuss and advocate for school choice. GCO is seeing positive change among the opinions of legislators and a wider range of support from the public for this project.
The overarching goal of this project is to allow more students to access an education that fits their unique needs. GCO’s firm belief in the hope of education is motivating them to expand the options available for a quality education. Once each child’s individual needs can be met, every student will have a greater potential for a life of freedom and dignity.