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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Association Statement on Charter Closure

Arizona Charter Schools Association President and CEO Eileen B. Sigmund issued the following statement in response to the mid-year closure of Discovery Creemos Academy, formerly Bradley Academy of Excellence:

“On behalf of the Arizona Charter Schools Association, we are aghast at the reprehensible behavior exhibited by the administrator of Discovery Creemos Academy, formerly Bradley Academy of Excellence. It is unthinkable to close a school mid-year with no warning to parents and families. Similarly, it is unacceptable to subject students to the poor academic conditions illustrated by the Academy’s most recent AzMERIT assessment score, released in September 2017.

“The actions of Discovery Creemos Academy are not reflective of the approximately 550 public charter schools across Arizona and the 185,000 students they serve. The teachers, administrators and staff members of these schools are dedicated to providing their students the best possible education every day.

“This fact, of course, is cold comfort to those suddenly locked out of the classroom due to the reckless decisions of a single school operator. The Arizona Charter Schools Association pledges to assist wherever possible so that these teachers and students can find new schools quickly and complete the 2017-18 school year with a minimum of disruption.”

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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Association Statement on Governor Ducey’s Executive Budget

Eileen B. Sigmund, President and CEO of the Arizona Charter Schools Association, released the following statement in response to Governor Ducey’s Executive Budget:

“Today, Governor Ducey released a budget proposal that reflects his commitment to K-12 education and makes crucial investments in Arizona schools, teachers and students.

“As he had promised, public education receives the lion’s share of new dollars in the Governor’s spending plan; K-12 schools would see a welcome infusion of $400 million in the coming year. That includes much needed additional resources for capital, teacher pay and other school needs.

“As Governor Ducey said earlier this week ‘we’ll never check the box on public education.’ We agree – but this spending plan takes a positive, meaningful and sustainable step toward ensuring Arizona schools and teachers have the support they need to succeed for Arizona students.

“On behalf of the Arizona Charter Schools Association, we thank Governor Ducey for his continued attention to K-12 education and building a strong coalition. As the budget process moves forward, we pledge to work with the Governor and legislators to ensure our state delivers a winning plan for Arizona students and families.”

Charter Association Commends Governor for Commitment to K-12 Education

Governor’s State of the State Address Highlights Student Success, Promises to Maintain and Restore Funding

“Governor Ducey is right: Arizona public schools are improving. Students across our state are making significant gains in academic performance, and we are seeing real progress closing the achievement gap among students of color. I’m proud the 185,000 Arizona students attending public charter schools are setting the pace in achievement. Charter students of every racial and ethnic group have outperformed the state average for each of the past three years.

“We commend the Governor for his commitment to restore K-12 education funding and maintain investments in targeted programs, which provide stability to all of our public schools.

“As budget discussions move forward, we stand ready to assist Governor Ducey and legislators in our shared mission to bring a quality education to every Arizona student. Let’s get to work!”

-Eileen B. Sigmund, President and CEO of Arizona Charter Schools Association