A Family’s Experience: Attending a Charter School

Today is the first meeting of the newly appointed Washington State Charter Commission. To mark the occasion, Seattle native Keith Palmer shares his family’s story of attending a charter school in Arizona.

Keith Palmer grew up in Seattle, his dad was in the military and he went to Leschi Elementary, and Garfield High School before graduating from a high school in New Jersey. He now lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

When Keith was looking for schools for his sons, he went to an open house event that featured a number of local charter schools, and “fell in love” with ASU Prep. As the name implies, ASU Prep is a public charter school in downtown Phoenix run in partnership with Arizona State University, and Keith’s two sons both attend, his youngest is in 5th grade and his elder son is in 8th grade.

Talking about his search for a good school, Keith notes that every charter school, just like every traditional school, has a different culture, and it’s important to find the one that’s the right fit for your kids.

When asked what he likes most about ASU Prep charter school, Keith lists several factors that would be important to any parent. “It’s a rigorous curriculum. They’re preparing our kids to go on to higher learning.”

Communication and access are also key points for Keith, which he says is different than his experience with traditional public schools.

“Teachers are more easily accessible” at the charter school, he says. “There’s easy access to principals and the powers that be. It’s true two-way communication.”

Cost is an important factor as well. “My best friend is in Seattle, and he pays a hefty tuition, as much as a university for private school, and his kids are learning the same thing as mine. Charter schools are a good alternative for working class people who can’t afford that top-notch tuition but still want the top-notch school.”

Keith believes that having a right to choose your school helps with accountability. “There’s a reason people choose that school,” he says. “So they have to deliver on their promise.”

He’s excited about his children’s education, and he knows that both of them will have a solid foundation – not just for college but also for a good paying job.

“We have to think of education globally,” he says, “and keep our kids competitive for jobs and for the future.”

Keith Palmer is a parent and the leader of the charter school chapter of Stand for Children Arizona.

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