The Main Stream

Nov 28, 2012 10:45 AM by Ryan Haarer

Public schools compete with charter schools for enrollment numbers

TUCSON- New numbers reveal that there are now over 144,000 Arizona students enrolled in charters. That's about 10,000 more than previous years. This is the highest of anywhere in the country, second to Washington D.C.

To school districts, it's no secret: charter schools are becoming popular as they continue to find ways to adapt to the demographic. The question now is how public schools can compete to keep students in their classrooms.

"We have to market. We have a brand. We have to get our brand out there. We have to let parents know what's unique about our school district so they can make better choices," said Flowing Wells School District superintendent Dr. Nic Clement.

Sixteen Arizona districts have charters taking 10 percent of the market share or more. Charters say they are offering something others can't.

"We have an interdisciplinary, skill-based, multi-age model. So, not all of our ninth graders are in class together. We really do place them according to skill level," said Charlene Mendoza, Principal of Arizona College Preparatory.

Dr. Clement has no problem with parents being able to make a choice. He's more focused on the core of education.

"Public schools have got to make sure that they're addressing parent needs. I think we should not be as concerned about charter schools as we are about the individual needs of our students. That's where our focus should be," said Clement.

Despite the shift towards something less traditional, standards set by the Arizona State Board of Education are the same for all schools.

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