David Safier is a great blogger in Arizona who has his hands full trying to keep up with the myth-making of the charter industry in his state.

In this column, he dissects the legend of the BASIS charters. Their backers spin the story that high standards produces miraculous results that every school could match if it copied the BASIS mdl, but the reality is something else.

As Safier writes, “An obscenely well funded coalition of organizations exists to sing the praises of schools like BASIS as part of their continuing efforts to push their privatization agenda.
BASIS schools begin with a reasonably high achieving group of 6th grade students (recently they added a 5th grade). Of those 11 and 12 year olds, only one out of three will make it to their senior year. The other two-thirds withdraw, mainly because the expectations and pressure are so great, they know they won’t be able to succeed. The biggest student dropoff is from the 8th to the 9th grade. Any middle schooler who’s struggling to keep up knows the pressure and expectations will be far greater in high school as the coursework becomes increasingly more demanding and they’re required to take a number of AP courses. However, even among the ninth graders who make the cut, between 30% and 50% don’t last to their senior year.”

The promoters won’t talk about the selection process or the attrition rate.

This is a recurring theme, unfortunately, in every “miracle” school story. Education is hard daily work. Children are not transformed overnight.

Honesty and transparency should be starting points, not rare commodities.