Perception of charter schools clouded by information gap | News – Arizona News

Perception of charter schools clouded by information gap | News – Arizona News

A national Phi Delta Kappa/Gallup poll found that most parents don’t have a clear understanding of what charter schools are or how they operate.

Half of the poll respondents said they thought charters were not public schools. Forty-eight percent thought they can teach religion. The majority polled in 2014 believed charter schools can charge tuition and admit students based on academic ability.

Chicanos por la Causa (CPLC), a nonprofit that provides social services primarily to Arizona’s Hispanic community and runs two charter schools, conducted a small focus group with 22 Hispanic parents in Phoenix that produced similar results.

Magdalena Verdugo, CPLC vice president of education, said most parents didn’t know they could send their children to charter schools, saying “the perception was that charter schools were private.”

Charter schools are funded by the state and free to all Arizona students. They vary in mission and model, serving a wide range of students.

According to azcharters.org, 180,000 students attended 547 Arizona charter schools in the 2016-17 school year, an increase of nearly 10,000 students – or 5.8 percent – over 2015-16.

Today, roughly 17 percent of all students in Arizona’s public schools attend a charter – about triple the national average of 5 percent.

The East Valley is home to some acclaimed charter schools, including New School for the Arts and Academics in Tempe and the BASIS charter schools.

Hispanic parents whose children are enrolled in charter schools believe charter schools are better than district…

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