The New York Twenty: Real Charter Champions profiles the everyday people who are the champions to their children: parents and grandparents who make the critical choice to send their kids to charter schools. Over the next several weeks we will be sharing the real stories of charter parents around New York State. Our final champion - Albany grandparent Joanne McElroy Moore.
Today’s charter champion – and our final of this series -- is Albany grandparent Joanne McElroy Moore, who has made charter school education a real family affair. A lifelong Albany resident, Moore has been active in the community for years – especially when it comes to schools. Moore served as the head of the City Council PTA, and has gone on to become a dedicated charter supporter and advocate.
Her years of work with charters all started because of a goal she set for herself.
“When I retired, I went to a seminar where somebody suggested we make a list of things we always wanted to do. I always wanted to make sure my grandkids got an excellent education,” Moore said.
Moore’s time working with the city schools gave her some insight to the experience her granddaughters Alani and Aaliyah would have.
“I knew the schools really well. Some worked better than others, but it was clear early on things weren’t working for my granddaughters. They weren’t getting challenging enough work, and the teachers weren’t there for them.”
Moore looked into alternative options in the city, and that meant learning more about charters.
“I said to my daughter, ‘We’re not happy and we don’t want the kids to not be properly educated. Would you be interested in charter schools?’”
Moore then called the Brighter Choice Foundation to find out what their program and schools offered. They visited Brighter Choice Charter School for Girls, and Alani and Aaliyah started there that fall.
“When the girls switched to Brighter Choice they were doing very well and we were very happy,” Moore said of the change of scenery. Seven years later, Alani is attending high school at Albany Leadership Charter High School for Girls, and Aaliyah is set to join her this fall after finishing up middle school at Albany Community Charter School.
The charter model worked so well for both of them, Moore’s grandson Jmear just finished kindergarten at Henry Johnson Charter School, and her granddaughter Aviyanna is also at Albany Community.
Moore said of the experience, “Charter schools have worked so much better for my grandchildren than the district schools were. The staff at these schools go the extra mile. The teachers are free to be creative and find new ways to get my grandchildren involved. They have the children’s best interests at heart.”
Making that crucial decision to send Alani and Aaliyah to a charter school all those year ago helped turn Moore into a charter advocate. She began volunteering at Brighter Choice and started attending board meetings. She became a parent representative on the school’s board and even served on the board at six other Albany charters. Moore has gone to meetings with lawmakers and worked hard to support her schools. She became an advocate because she has firsthand experience with the challenges that charters face, especially with funding.
“The lack of funding is such of a handicap for these schools. Charters try to do everything they can to work with every single child, but it comes down to not having every resource they should,” Moore said.
While she is more involved with her grandchildren at home these days, Moore still advocates for equitable funding for the state’s charters schools so more families can take advantage of these options.
“If the state is serious, they need to invest in growing alternatives. The need is there and isn’t going away. We should do all we can to support charter schools and give more people in the community the opportunity to learn and participate.”
Finding a better option for her grandchildren and advocating to make sure they and other charter children are treated fairly makes Joanne McElroy Moore a real charter school champion in our eyes!