The Empowerment of Market-Based School Reform
LISA GRAHAM KEEGAN
These are exciting times in public education, and with charter schools and school report cards, Arizona is in the forefront of national education reform. It is no exaggeration to say that in ten years public school systems across the nation may look a lot like the system we are putting in place in Arizona. We are particularly proud of how quickly our state's charter schools have taken off and largely succeeded. Every school district in the state knows that a charter school may come in and win over a certain number of parents, making Arizona a fascinating place to compare with other states.
Many thought that charter schools would be a big-city phenomenon, but some of the really innovative, exciting charters are in rural counties. For instance, PPEP TEC (Portable Practical Educational Preparation Training for Employment Centers) has numerous sites in both rural and urban areas. Their parent corporation, PPEP, has a long history of providing adult education, social services, and health care to farm workers and the rural poor. Opening charter schools in communities they were already serving was a logical and welcome extension of their original mission.
The idea for the charter law came from other states, but those of us in the Arizona state legislature who favored education reform were not sure how well charters would work. Before we passed the state charter law in