KPHO Phoenix has the kind of report about BASIS charter schools I've wanted to see in the MSM for a long time. Yes, it says, BASIS schools are strong academically and have a rigorous curriculum, but they shouldn't be compared directly to other public schools because of their selective student bodies. It's a point I've made many times before, as have others, a point BASIS has worked hard to refute. Now it looks like other are beginning to catch on, and BASIS is being forced to change its "We're simply doing a better job than all those other schools" tune a bit.
Watch the whole five minute piece. It's quite good and lets both sides have their say. The intro summarizes the report well:
"They are ranked among the top public schools in the country, and they're located right here in Arizona. The BASIS schools are also facing some criticism, that they fudge the rankings by graduating only a fraction of the students who enroll."
A few of the statements in the report that come from BASIS are defensive half truths, but they're actually closer to honest and accurate than what I'm used to hearing hear from the schools' spokespeople.
My feeling about the charter school chain is, Let BASIS be BASIS. Let students who benefit from the school reap the benefits. But don't use BASIS as a way to trash other public schools by saying, "Look, we're doing it, why can't they do the same?" Graduates from BASIS are an academic elite, probably even more so than at most top ranked private high schools. They're the kind of kids who would thrive academically wherever they went to school. If BASIS schools had student bodies like most other Arizona public schools, they would find their sky-high academic expectations would cause frustration and failure for a sizable portion of their students.