Phoenix Rising: The Secrets Behind Arizona's School Choice Success

PHOENIX, Arizona – President Donald Trump wants to budget an extra $20 million for school choice but the big question is—does it work? CBN News decided to visit a state where, after years of trial and error, school choice has begun to make a real difference in the lives of students and their families. 

"Grow, achieve, lead! Grow, achieve, lead!" 

At 8 o'clock every morning, the K-8 students at Paideia Academies, a public charter school in south Phoenix, recite their mission statement and sing about their education "I'm going to use my synergy. I'm going to be in charge of me. You're going to love me when I lead!"

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Local View: Celebrate school choice in Nebraska

On the last day of the 105th legislative session's first year, I celebrated the advancement of LB295, the Opportunity Scholarship bill, as a former K-12 private- and public-school parent in Nebraska and a co-founder for School Choice Lincoln.

My son attended Catholic schools in Omaha and Lincoln through the fifth grade. When he entered sixth grade, I decided it would be better for him to attend Lincoln Public Schools for their accelerated curriculum options. To my surprise, when we registered, I was told he could not be in their accelerated program.

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3 Ways Charters Reform and Improve Schools

City Academy High School in St. Paul, Minnesota, will celebrate a milestone in September: twenty-five years as the nation's first charter school. During that quarter century, charter school growth has been remarkable. Today, forty-four states and Washington, D.C. contain some seven thousand of these independently operated public schools, serving nearly 3 million students. Remarkably, charters account for the entire growth in U.S. K–12 public school enrollments since 2006.

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The Cynical Dishonesty of Anti-Choice ‘Education Reformers’

Far too often, those who claim to fight for the interests of low-income students are actually doing the opposite. Donald Trump’s first budget proposal would allocate $1.4 billion for school-choice programs over the coming fiscal year, and many supposed education-reform advocates are not happy about it. In a Los Angeles Times op-ed last week, two prominent leaders in the field — Jonah Edelman, the president of the pro-charter school group Stand for Children, and Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers — claimed that Trump’s school-choice plan would “siphon billions of dollars from public schools to fund private and religious school vouchers.” In fact, the president’s budget would invest $1.15 billion in public school-choice programs and a mere $250 million in private school-choice scholarships. Edelman and Weingarten argue that this allocation of funds would “deal a terrible blow to public schools and to the 90% of America’s children who attend them, while doing almost nothing to benefit children who receive vouchers.” They go on to claim that “facts” and “research” have shown that vouchers harm student learning and achievement. This assertion is, to be blunt, completely unsubstantiated by the evidence. Of the 15 empirical studies of private school-choice programs, ten found improved test scores, while just two found declining academic performance. Meanwhile, 21 studies assessed the academic outcomes associated with public school choice, and 20 of them found that it had improved student performance.

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Arkansas Virtual Academy Graduate Receives Scholarship To Play The Bass

BENTONVILLE (KFSM) -- A Bentonville teen traded his traditional high school for an online school. This allowed him to spend more time playing an instrument that landed him a college scholarship.

McKay Clark has been playing the upright bass since he was in the sixth grade. He chose to do his senior year of high school at the Arkansas Virtual Academy. He said high school was hard and wanted to focus on his music rather than school work.

“That didn't work on a normal school schedule. So, when I found something that would allow me to do school work when I wanted to and to go to practices. It just really felt like the perfect opportunity,” Clark said.

Continue reading and watch the video here.

I didn't know anyone at the prom for my online high school — and I had a great night

For most graduating high school students, prom is the “last hoorah.”It signifies the end of four (or more) years surrounded by the same people. Whether you love or hate the people that make up your graduating class, they have been your closest community for a considerable amount of time. Prom is usually a time to celebrate the familiar before diving into uncharted territory. The word itself connotes images of limos, promposals, and all night after parties.

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Flexible Evening grads celebrate achievement

When the environment of a traditional high school environment became too much for Stephanie St. Clair, she knew she had to seek other options.

She had dealt with anxiety for much of her life, but after her junior year, the anxiety hit a fever pitch.

“I wasn’t able to focus on school at all because it got so bad,” she recalled.

So she made the decision to start attending Flexible Evening High School, through the Frederick County Virtual School program. On Monday evening, she became one of nine graduates to receive high school diplomas from the nontraditional school.

The program is designed to help high school-aged students earn credits to get their diplomas.

Read more about the program here.

Virtual School Made It Possible

Heidi Duke’s memories of high school vary a bit from the norm. Instead of going to her school’s campus, she studied online; and instead of doing assignments in a classroom, she did them at her house, in car trips on the way to doctors’ appointments, and in hospital waiting rooms.

In Heidi’s sophomore year, doctors diagnosed her with epilepsy. A condition, she said, she may have had since birth. Her seizures made it impossible to continue school at a traditional brick and mortar location, and so she enrolled as a student at St. Johns Virtual School.

Just this month, Heidi, 18, graduated with high marks from the program and plans to attend the University of North Florida in the fall.

“I’m proud of myself,” she said. “I didn’t think I’d finish with straight As. … I’m privileged they have virtual school for situations like mine, and for kids like me who need it.”

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Georgia Cyber Academy offers unique learning experience

By 11 a.m. Monday through Friday, Owen, Payton, Melinda Kaye and Nathan Mercer of Port Wentworth have already completed a variety of school subjects — all without ever having to leave their family property. 

The four children are all students at the Georgia Cyber Academy, a K12 Inc. powered online public charter school, and are earning school credit through their own unique classrooms.

“I really like that we get to have smaller days,” Nathan Mercer said.” We can take of some school work on one day or work ahead. And so we get done with school a lot faster.”

GCA is the state’s first virtual charter school and has about 14,500 enrolled students. The Georgia Cyber Academy uses online curriculum and services provided by K12. Learning can happen at home, on the road, or wherever an Internet connection can be found, according to school officials. All students interact with one or more state-certified teachers and communicate regularly with their teachers through e-mail, telephone and online meetings. Students spend about four to six hours a day engaged in schoolwork.

More here.

New Jersey girl masters virtual school, violin, piano at age 10

MEDFORD, NJ (WTXF) - Mastering a musical instrument can open the door to a world of possibilities. For Ariana Carden, those possibilities are being realized before the age of eleven.

With fast fingers and a gentle foot on the pedal, Ariana works on Chopin’s Minute waltz.

“She would pick up rhythms, hear the sounds and want to do something with the motion of her hand and the beats,” Ariana’s mother, Gina Carden, told Fox 29.

Read more about Ariana and watch the video here.