Wednesday, February 17, 2016

They Recruit, They Skim, They Flunk Out The Weak ... They are Arizona's Top Charter Schools

Arizona is a leader in the charter school movement. They lead in % of students in charter schools, and they lead the world in "Lack of Accountability." And no one in a position of influence really cares. The Governor loves charter schools and even wrote to the Scottsdale City Council urging them to approve even another BASIS charter school in their city. But of course, the reality is that Arizona's charter schools are ripping off the public purse and contributing greatly to the resegregation of public education.

The Blog known as Arizonans for School Accountability is the single best investigator of the charter school scene — maybe the single best investigator of charter fraud anywhere. It's originator and sole proprietor may be losing hope, because expose after expose is met with a shrug from anybody in position to stop the abuse. He posted the following entry on a "survey" performed by the Phoenix Business Journal to find the 20 best charter schools in Arizona.

The 20 "best" charters in Phoenix serve White and Asian children...almost exclusively. The Phoenix Business Journal just released the top 20 charter schools in Phoenix based on AzMerits fifth grade scores.

The "best" charter schools in Phoenix are:

  • BASIS Phoenix
  • BASIS Scottsdale
  • Bright Beginnings
  • BASIS Ahwatukee
  • BASIS Peoria
  • Challenger Basic
  • Archway North (GH -Great Hearts)
  • Adams Traditional
  • Self-Development Charter
  • AZ School for the Arts
  • Archway Veritas GH
  • BASIS Central Primary
  • Candeo Peoria
  • Archway Chandler GH
  • Paragon Science Academy
  • Archway Glendale GH
  • BASIS Mesa
  • Archway Cicero GH
  • Benchmark
13,452 students go to these charter schools:
    Asian 17%
  • Black 2%
  • Hispanic 11%
  • White 66%
Free Lunch - only Paragon has free lunch students. ELL - None. Special Education 4%

86% are either White or Asian. BASIS Ahwatukee has 330 Asian students and 283 White students. There is not a single public district with demographics like these and almost no districts outside of Reservation schools that have 11% or less Hispanic students. There are thousands of minority students who could do well in these college prep schools - if their parents had the skills to wade through the enrollment process - if they had transportation - if these schools really wanted to recruit them. They don't. A great school helps assure each child is successful. These school assure that they only serve successful students. There is a big difference.

Eleven of these 20 schools are run by corporations: BASIS and Great Hearts.

One truly weeps.

Gene V Glass
Arizona State University
University of Colorado Boulder
National Education Policy Center
San José State University

The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not represent the official position of the National Education Policy Center, Arizona State University, University of Colorado Boulder, nor San José State University.


  1. When I worked at a charter school, the demographics and census of that charter school did not even line up with those of the surrounding Deer Valley Unified School District.
    Arizona State law requires schools, district and charter, to provide transportation services. Many charter schools do not and will not provide this service. Let us see how long a charter school would survive if they were to accept all disabled students, low income students, all ELL students, and students that would require transportation to the school
    One other thing that bothers me about charter schools is their procurement process does not have to follow the laws that district schools must follow.
    There does need to be more accountability of charter schools to level the playing field. If the census of the charter school is skewed from that of the surrounding district schools, then something is definitely amiss.

  2. Hi Gene, John Huppenthal here

    A different view: School Choice works spectacularly

    Arizona African American 8th graders placed first in the nation (not a typo, they outscore Blacks in Massachusetts) on the NAEP math scores (2015). Hispanics placed 11th and Whites placed 6th.

    Arizona's minorities are the big beneficiary of school choice.

    The combined math and reading gains of Arizona students from the 2011 4th grade to 2015 8th grade were the highest in the nation.

    Also, other data appear very healthy. In 1993, the year school choice started, juveniles in Arizona committed 70 murders. In 2012, juveniles committed 7 murders. There was a much greater reduction in violent juvenile crime in Arizona than in the whole nation despite the fact that Arizona had a much greater increase in at-risk juveniles than the nation as a whole.

    The benefits of school choice appeared primarily for students in district schools as they improved to meet the competition. Local districts in Arizona such as Chandler Unified improved their excellence ratings by parents from 38% to 75% over the last 15 years while the nation as a whole plunged to the lowest level, 24%, recorded in the 47 years history of the Gallup Phi Delta Kappa poll.

  3. I do believe school choice is a personal decision of the student and the family. These charter schools are opened to everyone, and if a parent cares enough, that parent would drive their child to attend a good school. It is ultimately the personal sacrifice and responsibility of the parent. I don't have issue with school choice. Not all kids are equalled. We all pay taxes and that taxes go to schools, as a parent we should have a choice where to send our children too.