NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Arizona's Charter School Update

December 30, 1997

In just three years, Arizona's path breaking charter school law is reshaping that state's educational landscape. Moreover, faced with competition from privately run schools, public schools are changing their habits in an effort to keep students.

  • More than 280 of Arizona's 1,500 publicly funded schools are now charter schools.
  • Charter schools are offering innovative programs such as all day kindergarten, kindergarten for 4-year-olds and the opportunity for parents to choose the curriculum.
  • Mesa Public Schools have more than 5,000 students attending 20 charter schools -- while its traditional public schools have seen a zero net increase in students over the past two years, despite a population boom.

Arizona voters face an initiative on the ballot next year that would link state per pupil spending to each student, rather than to each school system. If approved, it would allow parents a much wider choice of schools.

Jeff Flake, executive director of the Goldwater Institute, says competition has changed the agenda at local public school board meetings. "They used to ask how they could convince voters to approve the next bond issue," he says. "Now the issue is how do we convince parents to keep their children in our schools."

Source: Editorial, "Schools Discover Consumers," Wall Street Journal, Tuesday, December 30, 1997.


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