Why BASIS is '21st Century Solution'

BASIS Charter School in Arizona is The 21st Century Solution, the title of Bob Compton’s new movie, because it offers a world-class curriculum and it’s affordable, writes the Two Million Minute man.

Our economy simply cannot support massive increases in education spending –we must get creative, entrepreneurial and frugal. BASIS, more than High Tech High, New Tech High or KIPP, meets the test of business scalability and sustainability.

A BASIS school can be started for ~ $150,000, he writes. The school year is a standard 180 days. That keeps the annual cost to $6,500 a student in 5th through 12th grade, well below the national average. Yet the schools offer a strong curriculum taught by “passionate, expert, inspiring teachers” teachers with advanced degrees but typically without certification.  All students go on to “top colleges.”

No new curriculum needs to be developed; no major foundation grants are needed to fund start-up; no corporate contributions are required to sustain the school. This model can be scaled quickly across the country and is affordable to any community.

BASIS runs very challenging, very high-scoring schools in Tucson and Scottsdale.  Most students are white or Asian and come from educated, middle-class families.

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  1. The point of charters is to offer choice, and this one looks like a great choice from some families. They admit, however, that they work hard at weeding out those who are not ambitious and hard working and that their students are not typically very diverse learners. The founders also say they had to figure out how to get the parents OUT of any decision making processes, helping with homework, etc.

    Again, that’s fine. That’s what charters are for.

    I do have a problem with it being held up as a model for everyone. Although personally I would love to get rid of the sports obsession in high school, the choir teacher who takes my kids out for two weeks right before AP exams, etc. And when you have kids like that, you probably should fire any teacher not making progress.

  2. tim-10-ber says:

    Since this is a charter, I doubt it would be able to attract enough kids in my district where only students that qualify for FARM are eligible for charters. In addition, no 9th graders that I am aware of in my district could enter this school as they would never had the option to master algebra II in middle school.

    I do like the concept of the school especially starting with kids in 5th grade. They should get the foundation they need to excel in this type of program. If they do not do well, I imagine they are asked out and sent back to their default er zoned school.

    I might have missed it but what are the admission requirements? Were there academic minimums?

    My kids would not thrive in this environment as they need the arts and sports. However, I do know other kids that might…

    Personally, I believe all kids should be exposed to the sports and arts in middle and high school. One never knows when they might show an interest. I don’t believe this school offers these options.

  3. Pawnhandler says:

    It’s easy to do well with students whose parents are educated and care about their children being educated. How would their method work with parents who had to stop going to school in third grade so they could work, or who dropped out in middle school or high school? How well can they educate children whose parents don’t value education and send those children to school for babysitting? What about the many children with behavioral or emotional issues? It’s not a solution if it only works on children who are the cream of the crop.

  4. Would you really want to send your kids to a school located in an empty store front at a strip mall? I’m all for a rigorous curriculum but even the daycare center my oldest attended when I was an employed mom had a nicer facility.

  5. tim-10-ber, “Personally, I believe all kids should be exposed to the sports and arts in middle and high school. One never knows when they might show an interest. I don’t believe this school offers these options.”

    Our middle and high schools offer sports–if you pay a fee. To have a realistic chance of not being cut, kids must participate in club sports from a young age. The schools offer bands, but to participate requires years of private lessons, at parent expense, as well as fees to allow participation.

    In past years, when students could play on sports teams for free, that was a valid argument. Why should able students sacrifice academic preparation, so that their school can offer their affluent classmates a chance to play on a sports team? In some ways, the system, as it’s developed in our middle-class community, allows the affluent children to steal the spotlight, while all the families pay the taxes which support the schools. I’ve heard the argument that large, multi-town schools offer more activities for students, but those activities are not available to every student.

    Pawnhandler, why do we assume that every school can educate every student? My children don’t need breakfast at school, and they don’t need to spend longer days at school. However, because it’s believed that some children need their schools to act as a substitute family, all children will be forced to accept those services.

    Crimson Wife, if our state offered these schools, I’d be interested. Our local high school has needed renovation for more than a decade. It also restricts access to AP courses. These schools keep their eyes on what’s important–getting an education.

    Does our nation need more washed up high school football players? NO. Does our nation need more chemists, scientists, and mathematicians? YES.

  6. ponderosa says:

    I love Block’s line about wanting to keep parents AWAY from school –reflecting a sentiment that is diametrically opposed to the education thoughtworld’s orthodoxy that “high-achieving schools” must have high levels of parent involvement. What makes a great school is good discipline and knowledgeable teachers, not peripheral items like parent involvement, sports, field trips, etc.

  7. I think the education thoughtworld has misinterpreted the term “high levels of parent involvement.” I consider myself an involved parent. I pay attention to issues at the schools my children attend. I encourage homework’s completion, and I arrange the family schedule so that the children are rested, well nourished, and have time to do their homework. I do not do my children’s homework for or with them, however, and I think it is counterproductive to encourage parents to get deeply involved in homework.

    Part of the problem is assigning a high value in the marking system to completed homework, and a (relatively) low value to tests and quizzes. This constitutes a grave temptation to certain parents.


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