I will not delve into the debate in this article about the merits, quality, or any of my personal opinions on the subject of schools. The purpose of this article is to help explain, to those who are new to the area, the current system we have in place, the different types of schools, and the options that are available to them.
These are district owned and funded schools. These are what most people would call “regular schools”. They educate the people within their boundaries, are held to state and national standards, and have unionized workforces that teach a very strict curriculum. And, although Arizona pretty consistently rates near the bottom of the United States on nearly every measurable metric for success in schools, it is worth noting that many public schools are excellent.
Private schools are privately-owned, privately funded schools that do not accept state money. For that reason, they are quite expensive. Most of these types of schools are religious schools, since the state will not fund schools that teach religion, which makes them pretty exclusive and they can be difficult to get into.
Charter schools are privately-owned, publicly funded schools; they are tuition-free. Like public schools, they vary widely in the quality of education, and are a little more flexible in their mission and purpose, with some schools set up just for struggling or working students, some for older students trying to get their GED, some just for students with special needs, some that focus on art or college prep, and others that focus on specific vocational training.