Advocacy Group Holds Charter School Fair

(Memphis) Hundreds of parents looking to see if charter schools are the right option for their kids filled a school fair sponsored by the Tennessee Charter Schools Association Saturday.

Right now, there are 31 Charter Schools in Memphis and many more applications waiting to be reviewed.

Just last week, Sheila Taylor decided she wanted her fourth grader to start charter schools next year. So she spent her Saturday at the charter school fair.

“There’s so much confusion going on with the merger. It’s never anything positive. There is always something going on that’s negative with the merger. I want something different for him,” expressed Taylor.

The Tennessee Charter Schools Association says, since the merger began more parents have shown interest in charter schools. The growth is prompting the organization to lobby state lawmakers for changes this year.

Next week, the group is outlining how applications for charter schools should be handled. Right now, the group feels they are too political.

“We are in negotiations with key players and we hope to have a guideline Monday,” said executive director Matt Throckmorton.

The second proposal and more crucial to Throckmorton is outlining what underutilized school buildings there are and seeing if charter schools can use those buildings to house their students.

“We have a lot of traditional public schools that are half empty. That’s a perfect situation where we need to share those buildings with charter schools,” said Throckmorton.

Throckmorton says the group has some received some backlash. Some feel families who don’t send their children to traditional public schools chose that route and shouldn’t be allowed to share school buildings but, Throckmorton argues, charter schools are public schools too.

“You are penalizing parents and children for wanting to do something differently. That was never the law, that was just a political thing,” said Throckmorton.

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