Arizona Charter School General Information
Charter schools are public schools under contract — or under a charter — from a public agency to groups of parents, teachers, school administrators, or others who want to create more alternatives and choices within the public school system. The schools are free, open to all and designed to be publicly accountable, as well as creative, flexible, and responsive to student and parent needs. In interviews with charter school students around the U.S., these characteristics were commonly used to describe charter schools: high and clear academic expectations, a safe environment, individualized instruction, committed staff , and a “good family.” Charter schools by law do not receive public funding for capital acquisitions or improvements.
The first charter school began operation in Minnesota in 1991. Many states, along with the District of Columbia now have charter laws. In Arizona, legislation creating charter schools was passed in the summer of 1994 as part of an education reform package. Currently, nearly 400 charter schools are operating throughout the state. An estimated 20,000 students from diverse populations are participating in curricula ranging from American Sign Language to School-to-Work. Schools are motivated to ensure fiscal and academic integrity and charters are evaluated on a 5-year basis.
Pine Forest Charter School, made possible in 1995 by Arizona Charter legislation, is modeled upon the Waldorf approach in an effort to make available a successful educational system previously found only in private school settings.
Pine Forest is the oldest of five charter schools using Waldorf education in Arizona. Fellow Arizona schools using Waldorf education include Desert Marigold in Phoenix, Mountain Oak in Prescott, Desert Star in Cornville/Sedona and Desert Sky in Tucson.
More information regarding Arizona charter schools can be obtained from the Arizona Department of Education at www.ade.az.gov or the Arizona State Board for Charter Schools (ASBCS) at www.asbcs.state.az.us.