New York Times publishes Northland Prep student essay

Each year, the New York Times solicits college application essays from thousands of high school seniors around the country who choose to address money, work or social class as their topics.

The newspaper published five essays this year, including a piece authored by Tillena Trebon, an Arizona public charter student who is set to graduate this month from Northland Preparatory Academy in Flagstaff.

In this poetic essay, Trebon describes the intersection of urban and rural existence in her life, how she balances these contradictions and how she’ll continue to “crave experiences only found at the edge” as she enters adulthood.

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Phoenix Collegiate Academy student uses father’s memory as motivation to succeed

Adam Jackson has always been a top-notch student who excelled academically and socially.

However, after Jackson’s father and biggest supporter died unexpectedly from cardiac arrest while being hospitalized for pneumonia, the high school junior lost his motivation.

Normally active and enthusiastic, Jackson descended into a depressive state, which affected his academic performance and caused his grades to temporarily drop.

Jackson grew up without his mother, who wasn’t involved in his life after he moved from the Los Angeles area to Phoenix as a young child, and was now fatherless. His grandparents provided his only familial support.

To make matters worse, his grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer around the same time, although she was able to conquer the disease and make a full recovery.

“I couldn’t find the motivation to continue in school. I lost a part of me,” said Jackson, 18, now a senior who will graduate from the school on May 23. “I just didn’t feel like doing anything.”

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Association Commends Ducey, Legislature on pro-education budget

Eileen B. Sigmund, Arizona Charter Schools Association President and CEO, released the following statement today on the Fiscal Year 2018 state budget:

“On behalf of public charter schools across Arizona, we commend Governor Ducey for signing into law a pro-education spending plan that makes critical investments in K-12 students, teachers and schools.

“Infused with an additional $163 million, this spending plan builds on Proposition 123 dollars recently approved by Arizona voters and signals a renewed commitment to K-12 education.

“Public charter schools were created by the legislature to improve student achievement, and this budget supports schools that are delivering the best outcomes for Arizona students. This new emphasis on results-based funding rewards high-performing schools, especially those serving disadvantaged students.

“Additionally, legislators and the Governor have prioritized teachers with a commitment that doesn’t end with this budget. Our state is truly beginning to take the steps necessary to support our schools in their work to recruit and retain high quality teachers. Arizona public charter schools, who are delivering strong outcomes for students, will continue to elevate teachers at the local level.

“We thank Governor Ducey for his leadership, as well as legislators who worked hard to get this done for Arizona families.”

Beyond survival, charter students build a plan for living in space

By Jamar Younger

“Why not me?”

That’s the question 12-year-old Ruth Cox asked herself before gathering a team to compete in a STEM competition, the Honeywell Fiesta Bowl Aerospace Challenge.

“My oldest brother won the final competition and my other brother made it to the finals, so I always assumed that I would do this,” said Cox, a sixth-grade-student at Challenge Charter School in Glendale. So she called her close friends and fellow sixth graders, sisters Emily and Catherine Taylor, and Ada Stanley, and asked if they wanted to create a team: Team R.A.C.E, one letter for each of their names.

The girls spent six months researching gravity, various methods for growing plants, and other topics, as well as plenty of writing and model building. The goal: build a base on Mars moon Phobos where astronauts could survive in space and conduct experiments, but still live comfortably.

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Arizona Celebrates Charter Schools Week: May 1-5

Gov. Ducey proclamation recognizes contributions of AZ charters to public education

Phoenix (May 2, 2017) – The Arizona Charter Schools Association is proud to join students, families, educators and advocates across the country in celebrating National Charter Schools Week.

In accordance with the national annual event, Gov. Doug Ducey has proclaimed the week of May 1-5 “Arizona Charter Schools Week” in honor of the significant role charters have played in Arizona’s public education system.

“For the past 20 years, Arizona’s charter schools have increasingly become the preferred choice for parents and families seeking an excellent public education that delivers quality options, serves a diverse population, and improves student outcomes across all demographics,” said Eileen Sigmund, President and CEO of the Arizona Charter Schools Association.

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Litigation, Legislation, Regulation, Oh My: The latest on what affects charter schools

By Eileen Sigmund

Arizona leads the nation as one of the first states to adopt a comprehensive – and enduring – charter school law. Our charter schools now serve more than 17 percent of all public school students in the state and have achieved unprecedented outcomes. With innovative leaders opening schoolhouse doors for the last 22 years, changes have occurred in the last two decades at both the state and federal level. And more change is on the way.

Significantly, Arizona’s school districts are suing today for over $4.5 billion in funding allegedly owed by the state for their facilities since 2009. Just as we did with Prop 123, the Association will review and examine how to best position our charter community in these upcoming legal and advocacy battles. It is imperative that the thousands of Arizona students attending charter schools are not left out of funding equity determinations going forward.

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National Charter School Week celebrates growth, parent choice

By Jamar Younger

National Charter Schools Week is a time to raise awareness and celebrate the accomplishments of public charter schools across the country.

In Arizona, we have a lot to celebrate.

Charter schools have become a preferred choice for parents, with about 180,000 students attending one of 547 charter schools across the state. That’s an increase of nearly 10,000 students – or 5.8 percent – over the last school year alone.

Nationally, there are about 1 million students nationwide who are on waiting lists to attend a public charter school.

These schools offer a diverse array of options for families.

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Fair Grades for Schools Matter

Editors update: On April 24, 2017, the Arizona State Board of Education voted 7-2 to adopt the Ad Hoc committees recommended models for elementary and high school.


By Eileen Sigmund

How good is my child’s school?

One way parents can find out is through Arizona’s school accountability system, known as the A-F letter grades. On Monday, the Arizona State Board of Education is poised to make a historic decision: updating Arizona’s A-F letter grade system.

After eight months of working to craft a system that evaluates Arizona’s public schools, the State Board’s Ad Hoc committee has recommended an equitable accountability system. The Ad Hoc Committee relied on the work of technical experts; you know, the Ph.D.-type that can run data models and differentiate how the proposed A-F models measure the impact of the school, rather than the zip code of its students.

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Association commends Gov. Ducey, lawmakers for expanding pathways to higher education

HB 2078 supports innovation, excellence & opportunity in K-12

Phoenix (April 18, 2017) – Thanks to the continued support of excellence and innovation in K-12 education, lawmakers have secured an alternative path to higher education for Arizona’s students.

Signed by Governor Doug Ducey on April 17, House Bill 2078 clarifies the concurrent coursework programs presently offered in many high schools and defines best practices for the operations and funding of these programs.

“Concurrent coursework provides students an opportunity to graduate high school with not only their high school diploma, but also with an associate degree or credits toward a degree,” said Eileen B. Sigmund, Arizona Charter Schools Association President and CEO. “This legislation will ensure that public schools across the state can continue to offer innovative programs that challenge students and bring higher education within reach of more Arizonans.”

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The overregulation of public charter schools

In this guest blog, Jeanne Allen founder of the Center for Education Reform (CER), tackles the overregulation of public charter schools. A fervent supporter of flexibility and innovation in education, Allen has been at the forefront of the education reform movement since founding CER in 1993. Below, Allen explains how a bill circulating through the Arizona State Legislature could impede that progress.

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