On December 12, 2008, I was introduced to the BASIS Charter School audience by Dr. Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel and an advocate for school improvement.
The BASIS Charter School in Tucson Arizona is a hidden gem of educational excellence in America - one of the very few glimmers of hope that average American kids, in an average American town can achieve extraordinary academic results in an average facility populated with way above average teachers.
Ranked by U.S. News & World Report in the Top 100 for college readiness, BASIS Charter is considered the 13th Best High School in the nation. This achievement is all the more remarkable because the school is only 10 years old, has no Foundation or wealthy benefactor and draws its students from Tucson - a city of a half million with 20% in poverty and the average wage 25% below the national average.
As in India and China, BASIS teachers are all domain experts - so if one teaches physics at BASIS one has at least a BS and an MS in Physics. On top of superior domain knowledge, each teacher is recruited for their passion for teaching and trained in how to effectively teach.
It can be be done in America - with the freedom to choose a school with strong leaders, with highly qualified teachers, a rigorous academic curriculum, supportive parents and the will to succeed.
And it can be accomplished at a cost less than U.S. Government public schools.
American children in every city deserve at least one school like BASIS where they can learn on a level comparable to academically top performing nations.