So I took a gander at my blog stats the other day, and I noticed that many people came here looking for Basis Chandler. This might be because in that post, I actually had information to share, and put important, googlable words in the post title, instead of my usual inside jokes with myself, and my whiny nonsensical wanderings, talking about tasty food and the resulting tight trousers. I'm not planning to change anything. I have a responsibility to my loyal readership (in the double digits daily, thank you all for coming!) to stay true to my self-involved self.
But still, sometimes I could say something. I'm sure you won't mind.
I read this article about Basis Schools published online yesterday. In it, Global Search for Education blogger C.M. Rubin interviews Basis founder Michael Block.
Two of my kids started attending Basis Chandler in August. I knew it was opening, and that the other Basis schools have long waiting lists, so I thought, if we want to try it, here's our shot. I talked to the kids, read them some articles, told them there would be homework and stiff competition. Jane was in at lockers for 5th graders. Ross was worried it would cut into his Mythbusters and SuperScribblenauts time.
So here we are, 4 months along.
What do we like?
You know, this is surprising, but the thing I am most impressed with is that Basis has given my kids responsibility for their own education, and my kids have taken it! With so many classes and teachers, I knew I wouldn't be able to remind them to take their math homework to school, study for the big test, or bug them about the paper due on Monday. I can look in their planners (required to be detailed and up-to-date, and checked at school) to see what is going on, but the kids are in charge. They are still learning to organize themselves and their time, but I am amazed at how well they are doing.
I like that they have awards assemblies at each grading period, giving awards to kids with average grades above 90%, another award to kids in the top 15% of their classes, and another award to the top 5% of the class. In the first grading period, Ross and Jane both got star balloons for being in the '90s club', and in the second, Ross barely made the cut off for the top 15% with an average of 96% (competition is stiff!), but Jane let her Latin grade slip, so she came home balloonless and bereft this time. (She is a smart girl, I'm not worried).
I like that my fair-skinned children are a minority. I grew up attending magnet schools in Los Angeles, and I think making friends from different cultures is a great education in itself.
I like that the teachers are hired based on subject expertise, and not on whether they have teaching credentials. (I spent 2 years in elementary education classes, and I sort of think that teaching teachers to teach is a waste of time.) Ross' physics teacher was an engineer at Intel for 20 years.
I like the curriculum. These people are not messing around with the math and science. For example, Ross is taking chemistry, biology and physics, plus pre-algebra, English, history, rhetoric, art, and his favorite class (although he talks too much and ends up washing desks after school), Spanish. Jane takes two years of Latin before she chooses her language in 7th grade (Spanish, French, or Mandarin).
I like the amount of homework. Both kids average less than an hour a day, and they do it without being prompted by me. I find this flabbergasting. And wonderful.
What don't we like?
I don't like that school is twenty minutes away. I get lots of help with driving (thanks Jake and April!), but twice a day is about all we can do, so the kids haven't really been able to join any after school activities yet. Ross was interested in fencing and ping pong, Jane in musical theater. Maybe if we can find two clubs on the same day?
I don't like that they don't go to school with the neighborhood and Church kids. And I know our neighborhood schools are good, so it makes me wonder if I'm nuts to be driving so far. Our neighborhood high school is one of the best in the state. I figure, at that point they are welcome switch if they want! But in the meantime, Jane's best school friend lives in Ahwatukee, which makes getting together outside school a rough business.
I don't like that they don't have Seminary. They will have to attend an A hour program at a different school, but there are very few LDS kids at Basis, so I suppose it makes sense.
Mostly, though, I'm thrilled with Basis so far.
Now, if only they would build one on my block!