April 28, 2005
Arizona State University has embraced the charter school movement. Under a plan unveiled Wednesday in Tempe, the longtime charter school opponent would open four charter schools of its own by 2006 — including an elementary school on the campus of Tempe High School and perhaps another at Williams Gateway Airport in Mesa.
ASU College of Education dean Eugene Garcia presented the plan to the Tempe Union High School District governing board in a study session that included guests from the Tempe and Kyrene elementary school districts and the Gilbert, Mesa and Scottsdale unified school districts.
"Arizona students overall are underperforming," he said. "We think that there are some critical education needs that are being neglected."
ASU would lease a corner of Tempe High and open a charter school in 2006 with about 200 students from preschool through third grade. The school would expand each year until it eventually served students through eighth grade.
ASU would maintain control over the design, implementation and evaluation of the school — something that Garcia said would be necessary to establish consistency in the network.
• ASU charter school students would be bilingual by the end of eighth grade; exposure to a second language would start in preschool.
• ASU would consider opening a charter school on its main campus if Tempe Union declined to participate.
• ASU would help Tempe High launch its own International Baccalaureate diploma program similar to those at Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain High School, Mesa’s Westwood High School and Chandler High School.
• ASU would expand its campus shuttle service to include Tempe High and expand dual enrollment and internship opportunities for Tempe High students.
Tempe Union board member Mary Frances Lewis raised multiple concerns about the plan, but other board members said they were open to negotiations.