Lane: Understanding the basics, and BASIS, of success

Students at BASIS charter and private schools are very good at math. It’s one of the reasons BASIS has the No. 1, 2, 3, 5 and 7 high schools in the nation as ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

I’m proud that BASIS’ first schools started right here in Arizona.

Jim Lane

As mayor of Scottsdale, I am proud that my town is home to the top-ranked BASIS charter school too.

Now found across the country BASIS charter and private schools can be found around the state, nation and even internationally.

BASIS is now a part of what I consider to be one of our state’s finest exports in the past decade. Arizona has long been a state known for its 5 “Cs.” Perhaps we now add a sixth, curriculum, for the amazing results BASIS is producing with its successful way of educating.

But with success comes scrutiny, and sometimes skewed assessments to advance a bias against charter schools. That was the case recently in the form of an article that first appeared on AZCentral on May 7th.

The article’s premise is that the people who worked so hard to build BASIS into a top ranked educational system, that manages public and private schools, should not be allowed to enjoy their success.

The premise is not only wrong but ignores the fact that charters get less funding per student than traditional public schools when you add up all funding sources.

If a school which in its Charter variant gets less than its public school counterparts can rise to such levels in national rankings, and subsequently satisfy parents who pay in excess of $25,000 a year to educate their kids in BASIS private and international schools, that sounds like something Arizona needs to learn from.

For some reason AZCentral finds fault with that.

I have owned several small businesses. It’s hard work with a lot of risk, as was the case with BASIS in the early years. Those who find success ought to be able to enjoy it.

I trust the judgment of Craig Barrett, the former CEO of Intel who currently chairs BASIS Charter Schools Inc.’s non-profit Board of Directors, especially when it comes to the complexities of school finance and delivering the best services for students and parents.

Simply put, BASIS operates great charter schools deserving of its rankings. BASIS Scottsdale was the top ranked school in the nation according to the latest available rankings published by US News and World Report. That’s a point pride for BASIS, for Scottsdale, and for Arizona.

If Michael and Olga Block, as the founders of BASIS’ curriculum schools, have found a way to deliver superb educations and make a good, even great living doing so, more power to them.

I consider this an exceptional achievement not an exception worthy of criticism. That a 76-year-old Professor Emeritus and his wife decided to use their savings and good work to buy a place in Manhattan sounds like a case study in living life through the finish line. Criticizing them is to do so of any of the many private businesses that contract with public schools.

Indeed, since becoming senior citizens the Blocks have grown their combination of businesses that manage public and private schools into ones with some 20,000 students, 14,000 of which are in Arizona. Likewise, a sizable majority of their 2,200 employees are in this state. We should all be so productive.

There is no sin in people being paid or earning what they are worth. If football and basketball coaches at our two largest public universities are paid millions, or if administrators at private and public universities are well compensated, what is wrong with education innovators enjoying the rewards of their endeavors?

It is regrettable that the article all but ignored BASIS’ exceptionalism while attempting to find fault with a hard working couple who built a thriving business.

As a believer in school choice, whether that be our Scottsdale Unified School District, BASIS, other charter schools, or private schools, I don’t understand why the Republic is so against successful choices. Rather than praise charter schools, the Republic often finds ways to dismiss their success.

But in this country, at schools like BASIS, it’s good to know its students are learning success in education is and shall always be a basis for celebration.

Editor’s Note: Jim Lane is the mayor of Scottsdale.

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