Tim Boyle

Atlanta superintendent: School choice is as American as the Happy Meal

Allowing families to pick their own schools — and particularly to select charter schools — is about as American as it gets, Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said Friday.

“People like choice,” she said. “They want to pick their president. They want to pick their Happy Meal.”

“The concept of choice is appropriate in a country focused on democracy,” she said.

Carstarphen spoke in response to reporters’ questions after her annual State of the District address.

More Atlanta students are enrolling in local charter schools, even as fewer are picking traditional public schools, Carstarphen said after the address.

The Atlanta school district has one of the highest rates of charter school enrollment in the state—and the highest in metro Atlanta, according to Georgia Department of Education data.

Over the past two years, Carstarphen has expanded the role of charter schools in Atlanta, hiring two local nonprofit charter school groups to turn around some of the city’s lowest performing schools.

“What I hear here in Atlanta is that [families] do want a portfolio of options,” she said.

Related: Atlanta among the most friendly in U.S. to charter schools

Related: Atlanta schools chief: APS in need of “great transformation”

Related: Atlanta school district to consider closing more schools

Related: The Ultimate Atlanta School Guide

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