Charter schools provide an alternative to traditional public schools

One of the many, but very important items on the checklist of things to do for a family relocating to the Phoenix area is researching schools.  Which school is the best school in the area we want to live? Which district is the best? Do they have extra-curricular activities? And the questions go on and on.  These families will also have to add another question that they may not have considered previously, “What about charter schools?”

 

Quick Facts about Arizona Charter Schools

Charter schools are public, state funded schools that came into existence as a result of legislation that was passed in 1994, making Arizona the 10th state to pass a charter school law at that time.  It is also known as one of the “strongest” charter laws in the nation allowing a high degree of autonomy from traditional public school regulations.   The term of a school’s charter is 15 years with reviews every 5 years by the sponsoring board.    Charter schools are funded by the state based on student attendance and cannot charge tuition.

The reason why families coming to Arizona may have not heard much about charter schools prior to coming arriving in Arizona is that of the 4,000 charters issued in the U.S., over 500 are in Arizona. Approximately 25% of the state’s public schools are charter schools, and 10% of public school students are enrolled in charter schools, the highest percentage of any state in the nation.

Many parents and students feel more comfortable with a smaller school setting and charter schools have received positive press. Websites that provide more information include the Arizona Charter Schools Association, and the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools.  Some charter schools are some of the state’s top performing schools.

To see a list of charter schools in Arizona, click on the state charter school list.  Once you click on the school name and go to the school page, you’ll find the school report card immediately below the school name at the top. You can also search for charter schools by name, city, zip code, sponsor name or county.

All four of our sons have attended charter schools at some point during their education. I asked my wife if she thought it gave them a better educational experience.  Her reply was, “that depends on what you’re looking for”.  Charter schools tend to be smaller in student population and therefore cannot offer some of the programs of larger schools such as sports, band,  and do not provide transportation.  At the same time,  charter schools tend to focus more on a curriculum philosophy or specialty. Like any choice, there are pros and cons to any decision.   My advice would be to talk to parents of students who attend a specific charter school.

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For more information, click on Schools in Arizona.