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Parents, Students to Celebrate National School Choice Week at State Capitol

ATLANTA - More than 1,000 public, private and home school students and their parents will gather on the steps of the State Capitol on Jan. 28 for Georgia’s celebration of National School Choice Week.

Parents and students from throughout Georgia are invited to attend.          

Participants are expected to rally for educational freedom and celebrate the successes of charter schools, online learning, home schools, and magnet schools, special need voucher and tax credit scholarship programs now available in Georgia.

The event will be held from 1 to 2:15 pm on the Washington Street steps of the State Capitol.  Gov. Nathan Deal, who supported the 2012 referendum to help expand the number of charter schools, is scheduled to address the crowd.

The rally is sponsored by the Georgia Center for Opportunity, the Georgia Charter Schools Association, Students First, Americans for Prosperity – Georgia, and Agudath Israel of America. This is the fourth year there will be a school choice rally in Atlanta for National School Choice Week.

“This is such an exciting time of year for parents and students as they come together to celebrate the progress that has been made in Georgia for educational freedom,” said Danielle LeSure, Ph.D. “However, much more needs to be done because unless they have the means, the vast majority of children in Georgia must attend a school based solely on their zip code, not because it’s the right fit for them.”

Organizers of the event will urge Georgia legislators to create new school choice programs that empower parents to be able to choose a school that works best for their children. They will urge lawmakers to continue to support existing programs as well, such as Georgia’s Special Needs Scholarship that allows children with disabilities to earn a voucher to attend a private school.

“Georgia is moving in the right direction, but we still have a long way to go to be able to offer all parents and children who want school choice the opportunity to pick a school that works for them,” LeSure said.

The rally at the Georgia State Capitol will be one of 5,500 such events occurring nationwide during National School Choice Week which began in 2011. It is expected to be one of the larger events during NSCW scheduled for Jan. 26 to Feb. 1.

The event at the State Capitol will include talks by parents, legislators and actress Keshia Knight Pulliam, who as a child appeared in “The Cosby Show” and more recently in “Tyler Perry’s House of Payne.”

When it comes to school choice in Georgia, there are 75 charter schools with a waiting list of 5,000 students for slots in these schools. The Special Needs Scholarship Program serves 3,229 students with scholarships so these pupils can attend private schools; the average scholarship is $5,747. The Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship Program serves 13,285 students with scholarships to attend private schools of their choice. Meanwhile, there are almost 1.7 million students in Georgia public schools – most who must attend the public school in their neighborhood because they cannot afford to move to a better school district or private school tuition.

“So many parents would like to have the same opportunity – to be able to pick a school that works for their children,” said Rhonda Gatch, with Georgia’s Moms for School Choice. “If we can allow kids to pick a cell phone plan, then we have a moral obligation to allow them to pick a school where they will succeed.”

For more information, visit www.georgiaopportunity.org or www.nationalschoolchoiceweek.com

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