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National School Choice Week Celebration – Academy of Math and Science

January 27, 2017 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Held every January, National School Choice Week shines a positive spotlight on effective education options for every child.  The goal of National School Choice Week (NSCW) is to raise public awareness of all types of education options for children. These options include traditional public schools, public charter schools, magnet schools, online learning, private schools, and homeschooling. 


National School Choice Week will be celebrated this coming January 27th in Tucson at the downtown Tucson Museum of Art from 5:30 to 7 pm. What will over 500 people be celebrating?

Students in Arizona are making the fastest educational gains in the nation – and for that, our teachers and school leaders deserve a pat on the back.

Why are our students making these gains? School choice is a big contributor. As any parent knows – and as any teacher knows – kids are different. Some do well in a traditional classroom environment while others need more motion and hands-on activities. Some kids have wealthy, well-educated parents encouraging them to finish their homework; others have a single parent struggling to make ends meet.

When we know different kids have different needs and we’re committed to quality education for everyone, the only option is to provide lots of options. Arizona has done that: our lawmakers – and the citizens who elected them – have created an environment where a variety of schools and educational options can flourish. That’s what we’re celebrating this National School Choice Week.

Many parents have found charter schools like Academy of Math and Science Prince ideal for their kids – a school that’s only possible because Arizona allows choice. For the past five years, AMS Prince has been fully enrolled with a wait list, so it’s obvious parents are interested. Why?

The school focuses on a STEM education, but the curriculum is broad enough to include art, foreign language (Russian, Mandarin, and Spanish), and music. The results speak for themselves: more than 90 percent of AMS Prince students in Tucson who applied were admitted to the highest performing magnet high school in TUSD.

Charter schools are only one type of educational choice. Arizona was among the first states to offer open enrollment – allowing students to attend public schools outside their districts. We’ve adopted charter schools and created the first State Board for Charter Schools – where at least three members must be from low-income communities. We pioneered both a tax-credit scholarship program in 1997 and Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) in 2011, both of which have been adapted and replicated in other states.

Despite this pioneering work, some school choice critics say that this has benefited the rich, white suburbanites.

But the facts tell a different story. Many of Arizona’s choice programs are only available to students under a certain income level, or with special needs. They’re deliberately geared to help the students who need it most – whose parents can’t afford expensive, specialized tutors or a home in a “better” school district.

Our own school network flies in the face of that stereotype. With an extremely diverse student body from different cultural, language, and economic backgrounds, we’ve achieved some of the highest scores in the state and this year were selected by the Arizona Charter School Association as the 2016 Arizona Charter School of the Year from more than 500 association member schools. Additionally, last year, both Academy of Math and Science schools in Tucson were recognized by the Education Equality Index for our success with diverse populations.

Educational diversity has been welcomed in Arizona, and its benefits show. The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) reported impressive progress for Arizona students from the fourth grade 2011 scores to the eighth grade 2015 scores. Those students jumped 48 percentage points in math, a faster increase in scores than any other state. That’s right – the state that’s frequently criticized for not caring enough about education was number one in this category. Reading scores went up 50 points, landing our students third place in reading progress. Again, bravo to the teachers and educators doing this and making a difference.

Since parents choose the pediatrician and screen-time rules they believe are best for their kids, it only makes sense that they should choose their schools. And do parents know and deserve to choose what’s best for their kids? Of course they do. And when they choose, their kids succeed.

Kim Chayka is co-CEO of growth and operations for Academies of Math & Science.



January 27, 2017
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
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Downtown Tucson Museum of Art
140 N Main Ave
Tucson, 85701 United States
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