On January 29th, the Atlanta chapter of America’s Future Foundation hosted a discussion panel on school choice as a part of National School Choice Week. The panel consisted of Kelly McCutchen, President of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation; Brett Bittner member of the Marietta school board; Rich Thompson, a grass roots activist and founder of 100Dads; and Oak Martin, a home school student.
The discussion began with a visual presentation by Brett Bittner involving a wooden box and several balloons. Bittner displayed what happens when a school system tries to satisfy educational needs of children with a one-size-fits-all solution. Some balloons popped in the demonstration and Bittner explained that likewise many children will give up trying to fit into the box. The panel was unanimous in believing that having more options is essential to effective education.
Parental involvement also seemed to be a key aspect for both Bittner and Thompson. Bittner is a member of the Marietta school board and has personally witnessed open forum meetings to which only a handful of parents actually showed up. Thompson argued that no education system will be successful without parents taking an active role in the educational development of their children.
When asked about the role that money has and its importance in education, McCutchen responded that creating a “no excuses” environment of high expectations in both behavior and academics has been shown to deliver significantly higher student performance than otherwise comparable schools with nearly twice the budget.
Oak Martin shared his perspective as a home school student and explained how technology has unlocked educational opportunities for him to learn from the brightest minds in the world outside of the traditional classroom setting.
The group of nearly fifty was treated to a wonderful evening in celebration of National School Choice Week.