Association President and CEO Eileen Sigmund Highlights Successes, Upcoming Challenges Facing Charter Schools in Arizona Capitol Times Op-ed
This was originally published in the Arizona Capitol Times:
The coming year will be a critical time for the school choice movement in Arizona and nationally.
Rapid enrollment growth over the past 20 years has demonstrated the popularity of public charter schools when parents are given an option in their children’s education. In Arizona, 180,000 students now attend one of 547 charter schools across the state. Since 2007-08, charter enrollment nationally has more than doubled and now stands at nearly 3 million.
Even more impressive: Consider that another 1 million students are on waiting lists nationwide to attend a public charter school. Clearly, these schools are meeting a critical demand of American families.
Focus on Teacher Pay, High-Performing Schools Highlights of Governor’s State of the State
The Arizona Charter Schools Association released a statement today expressing support for the proposals outlined in Gov. Doug Ducey’s State of the State address.
“The Arizona Charter Schools Association applauds Governor Ducey for his strong focus on K-12 education during today’s State of the State. While we look forward to further policy and fiscal details, the Governor made it clear today K-12 education is a top priority,” said Eileen B. Sigmund, President and CEO of the Arizona Charter Schools Association. “Specifically, we are encouraged by Governor Ducey’s emphasis on the beating heart of every school: its teachers. Legislators should support the Governor’s call to boost teacher pay, attract teachers to low-income schools, and incentivize good teachers to study, work and stay in Arizona. Governor Ducey also signaled his commitment to assist high-performing public schools, including those doing good work in challenged communities.”
The FY2017 budget is now underway in Senate Appropriations while the House continues work on its budget. As introduced, the Senate budget bills show a cut to charter schools through the continuation of Small School Weight reductions for charter networks.
Sen. John McCain has shown himself to be a staunch supporter of charter schools and school choice.
In a recent Fox News op-ed, McCain extolled the benefits of school choice and highlighted the successes of Arizona’s charter movement as an example of why it’s important to provide a quality education to students, regardless of zip code.
McCain specifically mentioned the latest round of data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which showed Arizona’s charter students bucking trends and achieving results that puts them on par with some of the highest ranking states in the country.
The Senator also praised charter schools for the overall innovation, and teacher and school leader empowerment seen in many schools.
Association President and CEO Eileen Sigmund appeared on the CW6’s Politics in the Yard with Jaime Molera in December. The new political talk show discusses Arizona issues with a CW6 twist. The fast-paced, fun and entertaining weekly show appears on Sunday nights at 7 p.m. on the CW6.
Jaime and his guests talk politics with the biggest leaders in Arizona, play side-splitting games and have a few laughs, turning political talk on its head.
Arizona’s charter schools have continued to thrive after 20 years, with charter students consistently outperforming their peers on state and national tests. The Cronkite News Service interviewed Association President and CEO Eileen Sigmund and leaders from some the state’s best schools, who explained why school choice is an important piece of the education landscape.
Arizona does many things well, including school choice, according to an Arizona Republic year-in-review column that ran last month. School choice was among eight items listed as the Arizona’s biggest strengths and reasons we stand out from other states.
The article calls Arizona a “leader” in the charter school movement, noting that the concept of school choice is still a novelty in many other states. More work needs to be done to equitably fund public schools and serve poorer students, but the state’s progress is undeniable.
An Arizona Republic editorial recognized Arizona’s emergence as a national leader in school choice while explaining the benefits of providing options to parents and students.
The editorial also points out improvements that need to be made in order to preserve a robust school choice environment, which includes properly funding schools and holding choice options to high standards.