The city is known by many as the birthplace of the Civil Rights Movement. Montgomery, Alabama is a historic place. University of Alabama historian David Beito says Montgomery nurtured the Civil Rights Movement. When people think of Montgomery they recall December 1955 when Rosa Parks did not give up her seat on the bus and was arrested. Her arrest sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The boycotts inspired Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to create the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. On Monday, August 19, another historic event took place when the city’s first charter school opened.
LEAD Academy opened its doors as the first public charter school in the city. Montgomery is a city where about 75% of the population lives below the poverty line and only 30% of students are on grade level in reading and math. LEAD Academy is hoping their school will provide administrators and teachers the autonomy and the flexibility they need to drastically change the educational outcomes for children in the city.
Alabama passed legislation back in 2015 that allowed for the opening of charter schools. LEAD is just one of the many that will open, which has community members hoping and praying for a better option than the currently drastically underperforming traditional public school.
It is shocking to think a city with the historic background like Montgomery would be opening its first charter school in 2019, where my city Indianapolis has been operating charter schools since early 2000.
This year, LEAD Academy will have 360 students in attendance. The students were chosen from a lottery with nearly 900 applicants. LEAD will begin by serving kindergarten through fifth grade. The plan is for the school to serve students through grades twelve with an enrollment of up to 1, 224 students.
Only time will tell if this we will be a lifeline for a better opportunity for the children of Montgomery, but at least for now, parents now have alternative options for their children instead of being handicapped by a failing public school system.