Great Schools Support Great Teachers

By Kate Gottfredson and Megan Gilbertson

Teachers are the single most important in-school factor to raising student achievement. As Arizona’s policymakers wrestle with tough budget decisions, they have expressed concern about how these decisions reflect the ways in which we value our teachers and support teacher pay. As State Rep. Paul Boyer, a teacher himself, recently pointed out, teachers are best supported when their schools recognize the significance of their work and are committed to raising expectations for all learners.

When our lawmakers make the choice to fund what works, high quality schools should continue to have the funding flexibility to make decisions that support great teachers and, in turn, serve the best interests of students.

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Arizona’s new A-F accountability system will prove crucial to charter success

By Jamar Younger

Arizona’s A-F letter grade system has served as the outward-facing indicator of a school’s quality since it was introduced in 2010.

For charter schools, A-F letter grades influence high stakes decisions such as whether a school or network can renew its charter, increase its enrollment and open another campus.

Ultimately, if a charter school receives an ‘F,’ it may potentially lead to the school’s closure.

That’s why the next six weeks will provide a series of defining moments as the state looks to complete its revamp of the new, proposed A-F Framework crafted by the state’s A-F Ad Hoc Committee.

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“Charters at the Capitol” Expands from Arizona Legislature to Social Media

By Jamar Younger

Charter school leaders and advocates from across Arizona gathered at the State Capitol Thursday to meet with their local legislators for our third annual “Charters at the Capitol.”

Our leaders attended meetings, shook hands, took photos and described the integral role of charter schools within their communities. The group also engaged in meaningful conversations regarding the advantages and challenges of operating a charter school, and what needs to be done to improve education in Arizona.

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Arizona Charter School Leaders, Advocates Visit Gov. Ducey and Legislators

Third Annual “Charters at the Capitol” celebrates school choice, empowers students and families

Today, public charter-school leaders and advocates from every corner of Arizona turned out for the third annual “Charters at the Capitol” – a day-long celebration of Arizona’s charter movement and its vital, growing role in strengthening public K-12 education.

Charter leaders representing students and families from every legislative district in Arizona participated in the event, meeting with Governor Ducey and dozens of legislators. Additionally, 2016 Charter Teacher of the Year Richelle Lewis, of American Leadership Academy-Queen Creek, made a presentation to the Senate Education Committee.

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North Pointe Student Creates Lasting Memories with School Television Show

When Alexis Limon was chosen to host North Pointe’s preptv morning show this year, she knew would gain a wealth of knowledge, experience and excitement. However, she had no idea that her stint as a reporter would take her across the country to interview people from various backgrounds. Limon joins the Association as a guest blogger to describe how the experience changed her life.

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Why I Teach: Charter Teachers Share their Experiences with Legislators

For the second year in a row, state lawmakers have sought to highlight the positive happenings in Arizona’s schools by inviting teachers to speak at the capitol.

Charter teachers have played a prominent role in these presentations, with Rep. Paul Boyer, chairman of the House Committee on Education, working with the Association to bring some of the best charter educators to the legislature.

So far, four charter teachers have shared their love of teaching with legislators.

Mary Ellen Lee, a math teacher at Leading Edge Gilbert Early College, was the first teacher to appear before the committee late last month.

Lee is an expert on charter schools and school choice, as she was raised by the co-founder of a charter school, and attended charters as a student from elementary through high school.

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Charter Association Statement on Senate Confirmation of Betsy DeVos

Eileen B. Sigmund, Arizona Charter Schools Association President and CEO, released a statement today in response to the Senate’s confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education:

“With the Senate’s confirmation of Betsy DeVos as U.S. Secretary of Education, we are sending to Washington a true champion for quality educational options available to every student and family.

“Ms. DeVos is a proven leader who will fight for education reform that works – just as she has done for nearly three decades. That means putting students over special interests, expanding access to high-performing schools, empowering parents and loosening the federal government’s grip on education policy decisions that are better left to local officials.

“The Arizona Charter Schools Association congratulates Betsy DeVos on her confirmation, and looks forward to working with her to ensure every child in this country has access to a quality education.”

Arizona Celebrates School Choice with Statewide Events

National School Choice Week is a time to celebrate Arizona schools – public, private, home or online – and let our schools take center stage. About 1,000 schools throughout the state signed up last week to host events commemorating school choice. Here are highlights from some of the bigger celebrations throughout the state.
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Mary Ellen’s Story

How A Charter School Education Expanded Opportunities for an Arizona Student-turned-Teacher

Mary Ellen Lee knows firsthand about the flexibility and innovation that have become a hallmark of charter schools.

Lee is the daughter of a charter school principal, a product of choice as a charter school student, and now is an innovative charter teacher who provides her students with the same high quality education she had as a child.

“I think the exciting thing about growing up in a charter school is that I experienced so much diversity. Instead of going to a school that was bound by location, I went to a school that was bound by interest,” she said.

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What is a Charter School?

Charter schools are public schools that are innovative while still being held accountable for improved student achievement. Charter schools are funded by the state and free to all Arizona students. They vary in mission and model, serving a wide range of students. In the 2016-17 school year, a record 180,000 students attend 547 Arizona charter schools, an increase of nearly 10,000 students – or 5.8 percent – over the 2015-16 school year. That’s about 16 percent of students and 30 percent of public schools. By comparison, year-over-year enrollment in Arizona district schools grew by just 4,000 students – an uptick of less than half a percentage point.

Charter schools were authorized by the Arizona Legislature in 1994, and the first charters opened in 1995. Charter schools were established to give parents academic choices for their children and provide a learning environment to improve student achievement. Read our 20th Anniversary Report here.

The Arizona Republic produced a video explaining the differences between public charter schools and district schools. To view, click here or on the video below.