Choosing a school is a big decision; after all, it can have a huge impact on your child’s future! Fortunately, Georgia families have access to an array of K-12 options. Understanding these options can help you find the best match for your child’s unique personality, strengths, and interests. And remember, each child is unique. The “best” school for your child may be different than the “best” school for your neighbor’s child.
This post will breakdown the six types of schools available to you, as well as provide additional education resources for Georgia parents. In short, you can choose from traditional public schools, public charter schools, public magnet schools, private schools, online academies, and homeschooling.
Most children in Georgia (and in America) attend traditional public schools. Traditional public schools are free to attend, open to all students, operated by school districts, and funded by federal, state, and local government. Did you know that, on average, Georgia spends $10,114 per public school pupil each year?
Georgia has restricted open enrollment for public school. What this means is that Georgia families can send their child to any public school in their school district. In some cases, families can also consider public schools outside their school district. Open enrollment is a valuable option because it gives parents more flexibility for where they can send their child; they can visit and research public schools beyond their neighborhood school. If you would like to participate in open enrollment, contact your school district to learn more.
Families can also consider public charter schools. Charter schools are tuition-free public schools that are allowed extra freedom to innovate with curriculum and learning methods. Each school has a charter which explains the school’s purpose and what specific community need it serves, whether that be providing a language immersion program or offering a rigorous, literacy-based curriculum. If there are more families seeking admittance to a charter school than there are seats, a lottery system is usually used to determine admittance.
You can find more about Georgia’s 115 charter schools (not including schools within charter systems) here.
Magnet schools are free public schools that allow kids to narrow in on a specific learning track, such as engineering or the performing arts. At a magnet school, all the subjects are taught through the lenses of that specific track. Georgia has several magnet schools scattered throughout the state. If there is one near you with a theme that your child is passionate about, this could be a great option for you.
Georgia has a variety of private schools, from religious schools to schools designed for children with special needs. These nonpublic schools do charge tuition, but all public school students in Georgia are eligible for a state-run scholarship program and additional funding may be available from other sources.
Georgia’s private schools offer unique formats, curricula, and cultures for students to learn in. One private school we talked to, Cornerstone Preparatory Academy, has a format called a “University Model.” Head of School Jeanne Borders describes, “Our secondary students have classes on campus three days a week (Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), like at a university. They do their work from home on Tuesdays and Thursdays with our assignments given to them. Then we have our elementary kids here on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and we partner with their parents to deliver lessons and co-teach on the days that they’re at home. Tuition for both groups of students is much less, and parents and families are involved in the children’s education.”
Whether your child wants to accelerate his or her learning or needs a quieter environment in which to focus, you may be interested in giving virtual school a try. Georgia Virtual School provides online courses at the high school level, plus some middle-school courses as well. Public school students can enroll full-time or part-time at no cost. Some state funds are available to cover tuition for private and homeschool students on a first-come, first-served basis. Other free, full-time online learning options are also available, such as Georgia Connections Academy.
Homeschooling is another school option in all 50 states, including Georgia. Homeschooling is the process of parents educating students at home. As both technology and school choices have spread in Georgia, homeschooling is an increasingly popular choice with more support and resources than ever.
You can find a great how-to about homeschooling at the Home School Legal Defense Association’s Georgia page, or learn more from the Georgia Department of Education.
National School Choice Week 2021 will take place January 24 –30, 2021. We encourage all schools, homeschool groups, organizations and individuals to join the celebration. Click here for ideas, inspiration, and more information!
Georgia celebrated National School Choice Week 2020 with a record-breaking 1,950 events and activities across the state. Click the button below to learn more about school choice in Georgia.
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