Category Archives: School choice

School Choice Week town hall

Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Foundation-Arizona with Arizona School Choice Trust will host a town hall, Restoring American Exceptionalism – Arizona Townhall, January 22 at Radisson Phoenix-Chandler from 6-8 p.m. as part of National School Choice Week. The purpose of the townhall is to promote school choice as an avenue to improve the performance of American students. According to the event website they want to support successful schools and hold failing schools accountable.

“It’s time to put children and parents first in the education policy debate, not the bureaucrats and not the unions,” Tom Jenney, director of AFP Foundation-Arizona, said in a press release. “Governments in Arizona spend over $9,000 a year on the average child in the public district schools, and yet 71 percent of eighth graders are not proficient in math and 73 percent are no proficient in reading.”

There will be a simulcast event with Fox News contributor Juan Williams and Hugh Hewitt that will also be aired live on the internet at Tom Jenney, Education Policy Director Jonathan Butcher and Arizona School Choice Trust Executive Director Liz Moser Dreckman will hold a Q&A session on education policy reform.

This is one of almost 50 events taking place nationwide between January 22 and 28. Free tickets are available.


BASIS Schools to open north Phoenix campus

BASIS Schools, Inc. will open a new Phoenix location for the 2012-13 school year. The Arizona State Board for Charter Schools approved the new campus at its meeting yesterday.

BASIS schools have gained national recognition for accelerated curriculum and extraordinary student achievement results. Newsweek, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post all named BASIS Tucson among the top 10 high schools in the nation and BusinessWeek named BASIS Scottsdale the #1 Arizona [High] School for Overall Academic Performance. The schools were featured in the 2009 documentary “Two Million Minutes: The 21st Century Solution.”

BASIS currently operates schools in Chandler, Flagstaff, Oro Valley, Peoria, Scottsdale and Tucson.

BASIS Phoenix will serve students in grades 5 through 10 in its first year of operation, the 2012-13 school year. The school will add one grade per year until it becomes a 5 -12 campus in the 2014-2015 school year. While a specific site for the new campus has not yet been determined, BASIS representatives are working to secure a location in the north Phoenix area.

“We have had incredible success opening schools in Arizona and we have every reason to believe BASIS Phoenix will follow in the footsteps of its sister schools,” says Nick Fleege, new school development director for BASIS Schools. “Last year we opened three new Arizona campuses – BASIS Chandler, BASIS Flagstaff and BASIS Peoria. We completed construction on time and exceeded enrollment expectations at all three locations.”

“We are so pleased to be able to extend our academic program to students in Phoenix,“ says Sheri Pierce, new schools curriculum director for BASIS Schools. “With the mature BASIS schools earning top spots in national rankings, our goal now is to offer that same great education to more students in Arizona and beyond.”

Registration for the 2012-13 school year will begin in January 2012. Details will be announced to members of the BASIS Phoenix Interest List via email as that time approaches. Add your name to the list by visiting and clicking “Sign Up.”

BASIS opens Chandler campus

BASIS Schools will celebrate the opening of a new campus in Chandler tomorrow with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at which Gov. Jan Brewer will speak.

The BASIS Chandler campus will offer a rigorous curriculum for fifth through 10th grade students this August, expanding to fifth through 12th grades by the fall of 2013.

BASIS has been operating charter schools in Arizona for a decade. The school’s first two campuses opened in Tucson and Scottsdale, and both have received top national rankings by such publications as Newsweek, BusinessWeek, US News and World Report, and the Washington Post. A third campus in Oro Valley opened last year.

The ceremony commences at 9 a.m., and will take place at the new campus, located at 1800 E. Chandler Boulevard.

Seating is limited, so RSVPs are required for the event. To reserve a seat, call 480-289-2088 or email — Sadie Smeck

SUSD Preschool expands to south Scottsdale

Last year, the Scottsdale Unified School District moved its preschool, the Early Childhood Campus Cholla, to what used to be the campus of the Cheyenne School in north Scottsdale.

This year, the preschool will expand to include a second location, the Early Childhood Campus Oak, on the existing Sierra Vista Academy campus at 7501 E. Oak St. in south Scottsdale.

Before- and after-school programs are offered at both two locations. The Oak Street campus will also include a Head Start program, a no-cost childhood development program for families in need. Tuition rates will remain the same for infant through pre-K students (ages 1-4).

The preschool will subdivide by age group into three programs, all of which will be taught by certified teaching staff:

The Toddler Program (ages 1-2) promotes early learning, as well as social and physical development.

The Preschool Program (age 3) explores such subjects as introductory literacy, mathematics, science at an age-appropriate pace and level and social and physical development.

The Pre-Kindergarten Program (age 4) aims to prepare each child with the cognitive tools they need to begin kindergarten, with a special focus on developing essential language skills for reading and writing.

About 50 children are expected to fill the new campus’s six classrooms, which will open for school on Aug. 8.

Applications and registration are currently available online at For more information, contact Carla Partridge at 480-484-6223 or — Sadie Smeck

National School Choice Week

With National School Choice Week in full swing and events taking place around the nation, Arizona families have a chance to focus on educational issues through multiple events and movie screenings.

One film, “The Cartel,” was directed by Bob Bowden, who worked for many years in the New Jersey TV news world. The film takes a look at the education system through several different perspectives: from teachers and principals who are trying to change their schools for the better to policymakers in charge of how the school system works. “The Cartel” follows what Bowden calls the crisis facing students in America’s schools despite, in many cases, more than enough funding.

On the movie’s website, Bowden posted several statistics about high school students’ poor reading and math grades. While there are shocking numbers about dropout rates (“Twelve percent of American high schools are ‘dropout factories’—schools where less than 60 percent of freshmen even make it to their senior year”), it is interesting to look at how Arizona ranks compared to these national statistics.

When looking at statistics about the percentage of students at different reading or math levels, it may be more helpful to look at the percent of students who are in the “below basic” or “basic” categories as opposed to the “proficient” or “advanced” categories. According to Arizona’s State Report Card, which is organized by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, “proficient” has a different definition than what we are used to. When it comes to national and state report cards, a child in the “proficient” category can handle “challenging” material. This group does not include students who can read or do math at a level that is adequate for everyday life.

In Arizona’s case, 24 percent of eighth-grade students can read at a “proficient” level, meaning these students can handle more challenging work. However, 41 percent read only at an average level and 32 percent are at a “below basic” level. The final four percent are reading at an advanced level.

In order to understand exactly where students are, as far as tests scores and standards are concerned, understanding how categories are defined offers a better picture of what the statistics mean.

The Goldwater Institute is hosting a screening screening of the Bowden movie from 6 to 8:30 p.m. today at 500 E. Coronado Rd. in Phoenix. The event is open to the public. RVSP to attend.Veronica Jones

Camelback School of G.E.A.R.S. hosts “G.E.A.R.S. Experience” event

You won’t have to pry your teens away from the computer if they are students at the Camelback School of G.E.A.R.S. (Game-Web Design, Engineering, Architecture, Robotics and Sustainability). The semester-old school of 200 students is holding a “G.E.A.R.S. Experience” ribbon-cutting event today to highlight the program for the school community.

The “G.E.A.R.S. Experience” begins at 1 p.m. with the G.E.A.R.S students and staff being joined by special guests. At 2 p.m., the rest of the Camelback High School students will have the opportunity to explore the event followed from 3 to 5 p.m. by students from partner elementary schools who may be interested in becoming a G.E.A.R.S. students when they enter high school. Parents and community members are welcome to join from 2:30 to 5 p.m.

Along with demonstrations from the G.E.A.R.S. students and staff, visitors will be able to take part in interactive presentations from potential colleges or employers as representatives from ASU, NAU, UofA Colleges of Engineering, DeVry, ITT, UTI, Caterpillar and the Maricopa County Air Quality Department also will be in attendance.

The G.E.A.R.S. program caters to students who have interest in the S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) movement. The curriculum involves several career path choices to prepare your teen for what they will be involved in during future jobs. Students are able to take the Exploring Emerging Technology class before they decide which pathway they would like to choose. The options for your tech-loving teen range from Game Design/Computer Science, Web Design/Computer Science, Robotics and Automation Engineering, to Architecture and Environmental Service Systems Engineering.

G.E.A.R.S. students also have the opportunity to land internships as part of the program as well as take courses such as Career and Technical Education (CTE), Honors and Advanced Placement and Dual Enrollment credit.

The event will take place at Camelback High School, 4612 N. 28th St., on the south side of campus in the south parking lot. — Veronica Jones

Phoenix Union High School District launches online enrollment

Middle-school students can now apply to a Phoenix Union High School online, selecting magnet programs, small specialty schools or any other school in the district through an open enrollment application.

The online application, part of a new “Experience High School” marketing campaign, went live last week. It will allow students and parents to explore opportunities within the district, find their home attendance school via an interactive map or select the school of their choice. They can complete and submit enrollment forms and receive an email receipt. The enrollment information will be electronically forwarded to the registration office of the school selected.

The student and parent/guardian will still be asked to come to the school, provide a signature and submit required documentation, such as immunization records and a birth certificate, to complete the registration.

The district also mailed a recruiting booklet, “Experience High School,” to almost 8,000 8th graders who attend 13 different partner elementary districts and more than 65 schools in the Phoenix Union attendance zone.

“There should be nothing easier than enrolling in one of our schools, and on-line enrollment will do that,” says Superintendent Kent Scribner, Ph.D. “It will allow students to make their high school choice sooner so that they can begin the process.”

The goal of “Experience High School” is to market Phoenix Union from a student prospective to a 13- or 14-year old, using Phoenix Union students who represent the vast array of opportunities that await — from rigorous academics, magnet programs or schools that focus on career and technical education to athletics, the arts, clubs and activities.

Visit the “Experience High School” website. Note: To complete the online enrollment form you must be using Internet Explorer (6.0 or higher) or Firefox browsers.