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Georgia legislation would let students attend schools outside their attendance zone

New legislation would potentially allow a child to attend any public school in the state, regardless of residence, as long as they know someone who lives in the desired attendance zone.

Critics of traditional public education say students in wealthier areas are served better since local tax dollars help to fund education, not to mention donations and community volunteering. Poor kids, meanwhile, must typically attend a low-performing school in their neighborhood, unless they can get into a high-performing charter school or get a scholarship and admission to a private school. House Bill 788, introduced Thursday, would break the link between neighborhood and school, allowing students with the right connections to attend a school outside their neighborhood. 

It says “a student shall be allowed to attend and be enrolled in the school for which a parent or guardian certifies that an individual residing in the school's attendance zone has authorized such parent or guardian to use such individual's address for purposes of establishing residency.”

The lead co-sponsor is Rep. Valencia Stovall, D-Ellenwood. The chair of the Clayton County legislative delegation has a keen interest in education, holding an annual summit on the topic at the Capitol each legislative session. She’s often broken with her party on education issues, saying traditional public schools are not serving children well. She voted to put Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District referendum on the ballot and then campaigned for it before it failed at the polls.

The January 26, 2018 edition of Georgia Legislative Week in Review with Mark Neisse, Maya Prabhu and the Phrase of the Week by James Salzer. Video by Erica A. Hernandez/AJC STAFF

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