Normally this page would be dead set against charter schools.
But these are not normal times.
Many of our public schools are not normal schools, and Chattanooga's needs for students in poverty are neither normal nor being met by our school system and school board.
So it is wonderful that an altruistic couple here — Ted and Kelly Alling — have stepped forward to become the co-founders of Chattanooga Prep — a planned all-boys charter school much like the successful all-girls charter, Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy.
The school, to be located in Highland Park, will begin in 2018 with 60 sixth-graders and will add a grade a year.
It comes at a time when much public attention is being placed on the lack of equity in Hamilton County Schools — especially for boys. Boys learn differently from girls, and nationwide boys comprise 80 percent of all high school dropouts. This school, combined with the McCallie School's recent commitment to establish a freestanding research institute for boy's learning, can make a tremendous difference.
Our existing public high schools that serve a majority of the districts' poor and minority students are failing to prepare graduates for college or career, and most of these youngsters struggle to escape the toxic cycle of poverty, data shows. The young men who don't make it in our schools finish their education on the streets, often in gangs. We cannot continue this cycle. Both our children and our city demand better of us.
The Allings, in their late 30s, have been investing in inner-city Chattanooga for 15 years. They moved here in 2002. Ted was a founder of Access America Transport and managing director at Dynamo, a logistics accelerator. Kelly began working as a resource manager for Habitat for Humanity. After selling Access America in 2014, the Allings and their three children moved to London for a yearlong sabbatical. While there, they spent time contemplating how they could make a major impact on Chattanooga when they returned. Chattanooga Prep is the result.
They see it as a way to provide boys with the support and tools needed to counteract the crippling effect poverty can have on education.
"The families and young men of Chattanooga deserve greater opportunity and choice," Ted Allin said. "The gifts and talent of these students have been underserved due to poverty and educational inequity."
The Allings already have purchased two former Tennessee Temple University buildings on Union Avenue, next to Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy. Elaine Swafford, executive director at CGLA, is serving as an adviser to Chattanooga Prep.
This school is sorely needed and can become a game changer for Chattanooga in more ways than one.
Here's a heart-felt thank you to the Allings.