By Shirley Franklin
Executive Board Chairman, Purpose Built Communities and Board Member, Purpose Built Schools Atlanta
When I was just 13 years old, I walked eight blocks, caught the subway, then walked another five blocks to get to my highly competitive school across the city. The trip was about one and a half hours each way.
My parents knew that a quality education would be my gateway to a successful future. That subway commute was the beginning of my road to the Atlanta Mayor’s office.
School was a place where I was judged by my merit. Not by where I came from, not by who my family was, nor my race or gender. Education gave me the confidence to raise my hand when an opportunity presented itself. Becoming Atlanta’s first female mayor and the first African American woman to be elected mayor of a major southern city was possible in part because at a young age I had high quality education opportunities.
This is the foundation on which I built my civic and professional life.
What if I had been able to get that quality education right in my own neighborhood?
I quickly understood that thriving neighborhoods are more than homes, businesses and sidewalks. How people are educated and how well the education system serves people are the foundations of thriving neighborhoods.
I support Purpose Built Schools Atlanta because of the organization’s focus on education as a gateway to student success in the neighborhoods where they live. PBSA provides a proven model to a cluster of schools in south Atlanta where students and educators have struggled.
By combining the best of traditional public schools with the best of charter schools, Purpose Built Schools offers a proven program designed to put all students on a trajectory for success through college and in their careers.
Too many people don’t have access to opportunity. But at Thomasville Heights, Slater, Price and Carver STEAM, all young people have to do is simply go to school. The barrier for entry is low–just live in the attendance zone and show up ready to learn–but the potential for greatness is high.
This is why Purpose Built Schools focuses efforts on improving neighborhood schools for children who live in the neighborhood, so that more students in south Atlanta will have opportunities through the tried-and-true gateway of education. A gateway that never let me down, and I’m confident won’t let them down, either.