Public charter schools held to stringent financial accountability while improving student achievement

Eileen B. Sigmund, Arizona Charter Schools Association President and CEO, released the following statement:

“Lost in the Grand Canyon Institute’s self-published 90-page diatribe against public charter schools is virtually any mention of what matters most: student performance. And that’s no coincidence, as students across all demographics see higher outcomes when enrolled in charter schools. For the last three years, public charter students in all racial and ethnic groups are outperforming their peers. The fact is that the finest public schools in Arizona are public charter schools, which have been lifting the quality of education in our state for more than a decade. The outstanding performance of Arizona’s charter sector compels better results in district schools — exactly what was intended when the charter law was enacted in 1994.

What we are seeing now is a desperate attempt to divert attention from that reality and a concerted attack from a number of organizations who care more about politics and preservation of a monopolistic system than they do about children, families and true educational achievement.

Contrary to the faulty assertions of the Grand Canyon Institute, public charter schools in Arizona are held to stringent financial accountability measures. These include annual, independent audits reviewed by the school authorizer – the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools, in most cases. The Board has authority to close charter schools that exhibit improper financial practices. Additionally, charter schools are held to IRS reporting requirements.

The truth is, what the Grand Canyon would really prefer is for charter schools to be district clones – with massive bureaucracies and reams of red tape to match. This misses the fundamental point of the school choice movement. Arizona charter schools are, by design, independently operated and function more like a business than government.

This year, more than 185,000 Arizona students are attending charter schools; meanwhile, district enrollment has been stagnant or in decline since at least 2012. In the open marketplace of K-12 enrollment, these numbers illustrate something real about the job charter schools are doing responding to the needs of Arizona students and families.”