U.S. News and World Report just published its annual ranking of the top 100 public high schools in America.
Arizona punches above its weight on this list. Arizona has less than two percent of the nations K-12 students but has three schools on the list: University High School in Tucson, Basis Tucson and Northland Preparatory Academy in Flagstaff. University High is a magnet school and Basis and Northland both are charter schools. Congratulations to all three.
Rankings are always subject to criticisms, and these are no exception. For example, many states allow magnet schools to be academically selective, employing admissions tests. This would certainly lead to a greater number of magnet schools making the list.
In Maricopa County, using the most recent reading score data, nine of the top ten public high schools are charter schools. Copper Ridge Math and Science Academy in Scottsdale was the lone non-charter school on the top ten list, and it is a magnet school. Charter schools, like traditional public schools, cannot use admission tests or any other admission criteria. Between this list and Arizona's representation on the U.S. News and World Report list one thing is clear: Arizona's public schools of choice are outstanding.
Heres a little food for thought: with charters and magnets doing so well, what is the point of having school district administrative bureaucracies at all? They're not helping produce top 100 national or top 10 local schools and they divert quite a bit of funding away from the classroom. Maybe all the talk about redistricting schools should really be talk about un-districting.
Dr. Matthew Ladner is vice president of research at the Goldwater Institute
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