The Rev. Tony Lowden, executive director of Stone Academy in Macon, speaks to the Dougherty Rotary Club on Amendment 1. The amendment, if approved in the Nov. 6 election, will allow the Georgia Constitution to be amended to permit the establishment of public charter schools upon a community's
ALBANY, Ga. -- Being native to north Philadelphia and having had one parent with a drug addiction and another that was not around, the Rev. Tony Lowden does not need to be the director of an at-risk youth enrichment center to know the impacts a broken school system can have.
Lowden, executive director of Stone Academy in Macon, spoke to an area civic club Tuesday regarding the pros of voters approving Amendment 1 on Nov. 6.
Amendment 1, if passed, would allow the Georgia Constitution to be amended to permit state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities through money coming out of the general budget rather than local tax dollars.
His argument for supporting the amendment is that education is the "common denominator" when it comes to success.
"Had it not been for my education, I would not be able to do what I do now," Lowden told the Dougherty Rotary Club on Tuesday.
As part of Stone Academy's after-school program, there are 300 children who come in everyday from 3 p.m.-7:30 p.m. to receive homework help, access to the Internet, as well as a hot meal.
Lowden indicated that some children in the program appear to be learning more from it than what they are getting out of the classroom. Some are on their way to being the first in their family to graduate from high school.
"I have kids who can't read on a third- or fourth-grade level," he said. "Some of them don't even have lights (at home).
When deciding whether to support Amendment 1, Lowden is encouraging voters to ask themselves if they feel they have gotten a good return on their investments from their respective school systems.
"This is not an inner-city amendment," he said. "We have to give parents an opportunity to escape.
"The news doesn't tell it all. When you get caught in a failing school system, it is hard to get out. We can take the future into our own hands."
Lowden also tried to make the point that this amendment is not about race.
"It's our state that we are talking about," he said. "I've got white kids in my program who can't read."
In the interest of fairness, Dougherty Rotary President Karen Kemp said, the club is intending to have officials from the Lee County School System -- who have been opposed to the amendment -- speak on the issue at its Oct. 30 meeting.
After high school, Lowden went on to double major in economics and government from the University of Southern California on an athletic scholarship. He ran the Democratic caucus, and later ran the Republican caucus, for the state of California. He is the former youth pastor of Beulahland Bible Church, the largest African-American church in Macon.
After a term as co-pastor of Strong Tower Fellowship, Lowden now serves at the youth pastor of Lundy Chapel Missionary Baptist Church in Macon, an available biography on him states.