The Hunt for the Perfect School
Arizona Alliance ofBlack
Establishing a solid academic foundation can be the difference between enrolling your child in a strong or weak school. Each parent has their own ideas on what educational resources they find most important (e.g. math, science, music/art, foreign language, etc.) so it is imperative you as the parent do some research. There are many options available to families. Families can choose to enroll their child in public school, private schools, charter schools, home school, and online schools.
As my daughter enters her Kindergarten year I have been on the hunt for “the perfect” school. As a parent I want my child to engage in challenging curriculum in an environment that fosters her love to learn. I begin my initial search online. I used GreatSchools.org as one of my references to gather information about what the school has to offer, as well as parent, teacher, and student reviews of the school. I also went on the Arizona Department of Education's website to get information on the school grade and to see if they were in compliance with the state. The last resource I used to gather information about the possible schools of choice was the website schooldigger.com. This site provided information about the school rankings, district rankings, top schools in the state, worse schools in the state, and most improved.
Once I gathered my information, I began calling schools and touring. While you can get information online about the school, visiting the school allows you to get a better idea of the school environment. Below I have listed my favorite schools I visited. Some schools were far from me, and some schools were nearby. I have laid out several options for my child, now I must decide what is best for my child and our family.
Arizona Language Preparatory:
This school is a full immersion language school. The children here not only work on English, but learn Spanish and Mandarin Chinese as well. Formerly a private school, the school just became a charter school not to long ago. The setting is small and classroom size is between 15-20 students. Because they are a new charter school they are not ranked on ADE’s website. The school has tested the children and found despite the children learning two different languages at the same time they are able to keep up with the Arizona standards. This school is the only one of its kind in the state of Arizona.
Arizona Conservatory of Arts and Academics:
This school is an arts school. Students attend school Monday through Thursday. Fridays are used for rehearsals for students. If students are having a difficult time in school they attend school on Friday and work with their teachers in small group/one on one setting to help bring them to grade level. An important highlight to this school is 100% of their facility is returning from the following school year. In a time where schools are having a difficult time keeping teachers to have all the teachers returning says a lot about the school and the schools environment.
Great Hearts Academies:
There are several Great Heart schools located throughout the valley. Not all the locations have the same ranking, however they share the same curriculum. Some of the locations the grade may differ due to the various demographics. The location I visited was the Teleos Preparatory located downtown. The class size was small and the staff was very friendly. When I did my tour the kindergarten class was at one of their special areas. I was so impressed that the kindergarten teacher took her time to sit with my child and talk with her. She even showed me her website where she had information for parents so they could be abreast of the work their child was doing. The children beginning in kindergarten learn Latin. While Latin may be looked at as a dead language learning Latin is a great skill for kids to acquire. Latin can help improve English grammar.
According to SchoolDigger.com this school was ranked the #2 School in the state of Arizona. This school is based out of Mesa, however this August they are opening a Phoenix location. Beginning in Kindergarten students learn Spanish and work one grade level ahead of state standards. When I did a tour of the school in late April the kindergarten students were working on nouns and pronouns. The class size was small and instructors appeared to have a good handle on the class.
Arts Academy at Estrella Mountain:
As you can see this is the second arts school I have highlighted. This is where I have followed my child’s interest. She enjoys singing and dancing so my search originally began with looking for a school that nurtures her interest. Many of the teachers are not only returning from the previous year, but they also have their own children attending the school. When teachers have their own children attending the schools they work at is a good indicator that they approve of the environment as well as the curriculum. The students engage in many hands on activities. This school has allocated a large amount of money to technology for the students. Many schools students only have 30 minutes for lunch and recess. Well not at this school. Students here have 30 minutes for lunch and 30 minutes for recess. That is a whole hour students have to enjoy lunch and recess!
I have included my top 5 schools that I would love my child to attend. My child’s needs may not align with the next parents so that is why it is important to do research. Good luck with your journey. Happy school hunting!
"Closing achievement gaps is a critical issue. The performance of Blacks is systematically different from that of other racial and ethnic groups. Decreasing gaps in student achievement means that we must increase the learning gains of Blacks."
- National Education Association
"The gap between teachers and students of color continues to grow. Over the past three years, the demographic divide between teachers and students of color has increased by 3 percentage points, and today, students of color make up almost half of the public school population. But teachers of color are just 18 percent of the teaching profession."
- Center for American Progress
"African-American students, particularly males, are far more likely to be suspended or expelled from school than their peers. Black students make up 18% of the students in the CRDC sample, but 35% of the students suspended once, and 39% of the students expelled."
- U.S. Department of Education
Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators
1334 E. Chandler Blvd., Ste. #5-C23
Phoenix, AZ 85048
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AzABSE pledges to continue serving as educational advocates for children who have been poorly served in the past. We further pledge to ensure that African-American and all other diverse students are effectively educated in the present and are accorded priorities for the future. We pledge to lead the way through the creation of a concrete model that demonstrates the goals of academic and cultural excellence.