Sunday, December 13, 2009

Done Right, Right here.

Here in Tucson, of all places, near the now empty El Con mall (which has experienced a revival on the outside due to the highly popular retail chains on the property but still sits largely empty on the inside), sits the Basis Charter School.

This school boasts a 100% college acceptance rate and has been the plantiff in a lawsuit against the state board of education to set their own curriculum standards for social studies and teach at a higher grade level than the set standards. It has also been the subject of the documentary film 2 Million Minutes, which compares the educational standards of the U.S. with that of Asian countries like China and India.

Detractors say that the Basis model wouldn't work in a regular educational setting, citing the higher standards as being impossible to attain for the average student. It also does some other things that most public schools would never do. For one thing, it is funded with about $1,000 less per student than the typical public school. Other than a Charter School, no public school would dream of doing more with less.

Another thing it does that other schools would not is that it hires teachers that would never be accepted as public school teachers. People like George Rising, who has his PH.D. in philosophy and an M.A. in history and has taught for 7 years at the U. of A. Rising is unqualified to teach at any of the local T.U.S.D. because he is not certified by the Arizona Board of Education.

Interested? Here are a couple of articles about the School.

Learning the BASIS for Advanced Placement Courses

Desert excellence

Gingrich, Sharpton praise charter's innovation


Eileen Short said...

Interesting post. I hadn't heard of BASIS until just recently. BASIS and UHS both made the Top 25 list for high schools in the US. As a Penguin, this makes me proud. But I know firsthand that it's the school's population that's making these school's test scores/college rates soar.
BASIS requires all students (& pays for) to take 6 AP classes in order to graduate. Obviously, this attracts the college-bound population. It's also easier to have 100% of your students graduate when you have classes of 12-20 graduating each year. That being said, it's great that options exist like this in Tucson. But it's not fair to compare it to all students in public high schools. It would be fair to compare these stats to students in high schools who took at least 6 AP classes...

Jaime said...

Thanks for pointing that out Eileen. I wasn't trying to compare it to other public schools. Just trying to be provocative.

I don't even think all students should go to college and I do think that sometimes we put too much emphasis on making sure everyone is "college-bound".

On the other hand, why are the scores/results/abilities of students in some other countries perennially better than those of kids in our country, and by a growing margin. Are we inherently dumber here? I think not.

It must have something to do with the emphasis of our culture of education.

Once again, just trying to be provocative with my posts. Glad I engaged your thoughts.

{ K } said...

A school I'd like my children to go to, but because of travel limitations, they cannot.
I do however model the work that we have them do outside of their current school on Basis and it's standards.
Even though it's known that all children won't go to college, we feel that there is nothing wrong with holding their education to a higher standard.
Thank you for your thoughts and sharing the links about this "gem in the desert".

El Cid said...

I, for one, am happy to see a school like this. I think holding people to a higher standard helps them achieve more than they otherwise would have.

Jaime said we put too much emphasis on making sure everyone is college bound. Are you saying that some kids shouldn't go to college?