Commitment to her students, school is why south Phoenix charter teacher chooses to teach

By Christie Megura, NFL Yet College Prep Academy Teacher 

Why do I choose to teach in Arizona?

I hear this question a lot from my parents, colleagues and friends who live outside of our state, who see the additional hours and costs I spend on my profession.

For a long time, pursuing a high level of excellence and expertise was a major factor that kept me engaged in the classroom. But this year I earned my National Board Certification, and for the first time I found myself asking, “Why do I choose to teach in Arizona?”

It’s because of students like Miriam.

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From the desk of the President

By Eileen Sigmund

Reflecting back on 2017, we wanted to highlight how the Arizona Charter Schools Association has worked with our charter community to advance opportunities for our 185,900 students and 556 schools across Arizona.

For decades, our state has been a national leader in education freedom – the radical concept that parents know their own children best and should be empowered to select a school for them that is the right fit.

Parents are using that fundamental right as nearly 1 in 2 K-8 students in Maricopa County don’t attend the district school to which they were assigned based on home address. The Association was a partner in this first-of-its kind research. The actual number is almost certainly higher as we only looked at district and charter school students and didn’t take into account those who are homeschooled, attend private or online schools, or are enrolled in high school.

Charters and choice are the new norm.

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Innovation recognized with unprecedented number of charter schools receiving federal start-up funds

By Yvonne Watterson

Arizona, we know families like to choose the best educational fit for their child, and now 14 new charter schools are coming your way.

On Monday, the Arizona State Board of Education made this possible by approving federal Charter School Program grants to schools that will mainly serve low-income families.

These non-profit schools will use the money to open new schools or expand enrollment, increase grade levels and replicate campuses already serving Arizona students.

While the Board approved an unprecedented number of federal start-up grants, this is the final round of the charter school expansion funding from the U.S. Department of Education.

This grant is the only source of funding Arizona charter schools have access to prior to the first day of school.

Think about that.

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BASIS Chandler student’s values help her rise to the top

By Jamar Younger

Kaylah Rose Yazzie has no problem adapting to change.

As the daughter of a former active duty U.S. Air Force officer, Kaylah spent the early years of her childhood moving across the globe, living as far away as Alaska and Japan.

So, when she arrived at BASIS Chandler two years ago as a burgeoning young swimmer who was looking for more of an academic challenge at a rigorous school, it was only a matter of time before she found success.

The eighth-grader has excelled as a student and an athlete, breaking three state swimming records while helping the school’s swim team win a state title last year. The 15-year-old won the gold in the 200-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke and 50-yard butterfly during the Canyon Athletic Association’s state meet last October.

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Real life provides best lessons for Imagine Tempe charter teacher

By Ashley Sweigert, Imagine Tempe Teacher

Why do I love to teach?

For me, it’s that moment when you’re with your students and they are learning something new. That moment when they are struggling with a problem, but work together as a class to figure it out. You’ll see students jump up, start collaborating with one and other, using phrases such as “well I respectfully disagree with you because” or “I respectfully agree with you because.”

I enjoy being able to step back as their facilitator and watch my students as they take ownership of their own learning. Then you’ll notice that “lightbulb go off” and they’ll raise their hands in the air saying, “Miss Sweigert! Miss Sweigert! We figured it out!”

That is why I love teaching.

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In school choice discussion, parent voices matter the most

By Jamar Younger

Arizona parents continue to demand education freedom, and public charter schools serve as a growing number of those choices.

More than 185,900 students have enrolled in charter schools this year, with tens of thousands more waiting to attend schools at capacity.

Recently, a few of those parents have raised their voice in support of their school of choice. These parents wanted to remind the public that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work when it comes to their child’s education.

Below are excerpts of opinion columns recently published in newspapers across Arizona. These stories serve as a reminder that public charter schools are a thriving sector in Arizona’s public education landscape.

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Minority families shouldn’t have to take a backseat when choosing quality options

By Jamar Younger

What’s the difference between forced segregation and voluntary association?

Two students recently explored this topic in a short, but poignant video created by Choice Media.

Although critics may scapegoat charters for increased segregation, supporters, including thousands of parents, will say these charters have provided increased education opportunities for minority students, particularly African-Americans in underserved areas with historically low-achieving schools.

Many will also note that this country, its neighborhoods and school systems were already deeply segregated way before the arrival of charter schools.

Besides, there’s a difference between forced segregation and choosing a school that presents the best opportunity for your student.

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ACLU misses mark, charter schools provide critical alternative

By Eileen Sigmund

The ACLU is worried about public schools with “exclusionary” enrollment policies? That’s good to know.

Because for all but the last 20 years of our state’s existence, where you went to school depended on where you lived. Affluent families could afford to buy homes in expensive neighborhoods with high-quality schools. As for everyone else, we were at the mercy of our local district school. Students stuck in failing schools had no escape.

Talk about enrollment suppression and discrimination …

Thankfully, this injustice was significantly curtailed in Arizona over the last two decades with the adoption of open enrollment policies and advent of charter schools. These were hard-fought wins, achieved over the staunch opposition of the education establishment – namely the teacher’s union and school districts.

Where has the ACLU been? Not with Arizona families fighting for access to better schools.

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New charter schools will provide expanded opportunities for Arizona students

By Jamar Younger

Charter school enrollment has been trending upward for the past 20 years, with charters now serving 17 percent of Arizona’s public school students, a 6 percent increase over FY16.

The trend is set to continue after the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools approved the applications of five new charter schools that are set to open next August. The Board approved the new schools during its regular meeting on Monday, Dec. 11.

These new charters will provide a range of options for students, from STEM curriculums to a dual language immersion program.

The schools will serve about 700 students total, many from low-income neighborhoods in the Phoenix area and Tucson. The Arizona Charter Schools Association provided support for these schools by reviewing their applications, conducting mock interviews and giving guidance throughout the process.

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Central Phoenix charter school makes the jump from remedial to rigorous

By Jamar Younger

Phoenix College Preparatory Academy has embarked on a dramatic evolution since the school opened in 2003.

The central Phoenix public charter school, affiliated with Phoenix College, originally opened as a remedial school that catered to students who fell behind in their studies and needed to recover credits to graduate.

Over the years, the school has moved from one serving students who fell behind to a rigorous college prep school helping students get ahead.

The school’s AzMERIT scores have steadily increased within the last three years, rising above the state average, earning an ‘A’ in this year’s preliminary letter grade system.

Phoenix College Prep’s enrollment has more than doubled within the last five years, from 67 to 175 students. About 90 percent of the school’s students qualify for free-and-reduced lunch, said Principal Keith Brown.

More than half of the school’s senior class is on track to receive their associate’s degree by time they graduate in the spring.

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