It’s National Charter Schools Week! What better time to recognize Arizona’s robust charter school sector that is leading Arizona to be one of the top academic gaining states in the country. Today we have 556 public charter schools serving 170,755 students. That’s nearly 30 percent of the public schools in Arizona, and growing!

In honor of #CharterSchoolsWeek, we’re acknowledging the tremendous contribution Arizona’s charter sector has made to our state’s education system, particularly in offering high quality education options in low-income neighborhoods.

At A for Arizona, we’re agnostic about public school models. Traditional district, charter, magnet…we love them all, so long as they’re helmed by committed, visionary leaders who hold high expectations for students and teachers and are achieving great results.

Think you know charters?

Let’s start with the results. Arizona’s charter students outperformed nearly every other state on the Nation’s Report Card and exceeded the state average of students passing AzMERIT in 2015. Here’s more on that in a recent column from Arizona Chamber CEO Glenn Hamer. Our state continues to receive national attention, in part because of charters’ role in driving education success in Arizona.

Many assume this excellence is achieved because charter schools cater only to students in affluent neighborhoods. False. Arizona charter schools accept all students and more importantly they often offer a high quality education in areas where one does not otherwise exist. Take for example, Empower College Prep in central Phoenix, Western School of Science and Technology in Maryvale, Espiritu Schools and Vista College Prep in South Phoenix, or Mexicayotl Academy in Nogales and Tucson. These campuses thrive at the ‘A’ level while serving large numbers of low SES students and diverse language. Other change agents like the Academies of Math and Science target neighborhoods that only provide a ‘D’ or ‘F’-rated education and give parents and families a new pathway to attend a STEM focused, ‘A’ rated school.

We’re also exceedingly thankful that Arizona’s policy leaders have shown great restraint in not over-regulating our charter sector. Eastern snobbery may tell us our “wild west” approach to charter growth is out of hand, but our results over time shout for themselves. Arizona charters are rapidly gaining on New England’s high performers where they spend about twice as much money per pupil than Arizona charters.

The successful formula that now governs public charter schools in Arizona can and should be applied more broadly: open only great schools, demand continuing quality, shut down schools that are not worthy of our children …and offer every opportunity for great schools to expand and replicate.

In other words, Massachusetts, we’re coming for you.

For more myth busters, check out this page over at the Arizona Charter Schools Association.