Chattanooga Couple Works to Open Charter School for Underprivileged Boys

Published January 2, 2017

Boys living in poverty in Chattanooga, Tennessee will be able to attend a new charter school in 2018, if a local couple’s plans receive government approval.

Ted and Kelly Alling have purchased two buildings and an abandoned field they hope to use for Chattanooga Prep, an all-boys school set to open in 2018 in the Highland Park area of the city. The proposed school will focus on serving underprivileged young men.

At press time, the Allings said they plan to file the school’s charter with the Hamilton County Board of Education in early 2017, and they say they will soon begin a capital campaign to raise funds. A significant portion of the funds have already been raised, Ted Alling says.

The Allings are partnering with the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy (CGLA), a charter serving underprivileged girls in the city, to open Chattanooga Prep, which will be located immediate beside CGLA and operate as its brother school.

‘A Ton of Support’

Ted Alling says the community is excited about Chattanooga Prep.

“Since the announcement of [Chattanooga Prep], we have received a ton of support from the Chattanooga community, with many wanting to help in whatever capacity possible: mentoring, volunteering, or donating,” Alling said. “We already held one neighborhood meeting in the area where the school will be located, with an attendance of over 50 people. We have support from parents, future students, neighborhood folks, community, and educational leaders.” 

Alling says his school will help many different boys, but the impoverished will benefit the most.

“I am laser-focused on our Chattanooga community, especially on the young men in underserved neighborhoods,” Alling said. “I have seen how CGLA has impacted the young women in our community that deserve more in education, and I look forward to now doing the same for the young men.” 

‘Matters of Choice’

CGLA Executive Director Elaine Swafford says charter schools allow for greater creativity and choice.

“Curriculums are usually set by the state, but the pedagogical, outside-the-box-type things are matters of choice,” Swafford said.

Justin Owen, president and CEO of the Beacon Center of Tennessee, says charter schools have filled the void where traditional public schools have left children emptyhanded.

“Charters are doing a great job serving those children who had previously been left behind by a system that forces them into bad schools based on their ZIP code,” Owen said. “Expanding those opportunities in Chattanooga and elsewhere in Tennessee is paramount. It’s time to stop picking our kids’ schools using the same five-digit number the post office uses to deliver our mail. We owe them more than that.”

‘Empowered’ with Choice

Owen says parents should have the power to choose how to educate their children.

“All children deserve the best education they can get, tailored to their unique needs,” Owen said. “Whether it’s a traditional public, charter, private, online school, or some combination thereof, all Tennessee parents should be empowered with educational choice.”

Ashley Bateman ([email protected]) writes from Alexandria, Virginia.