I need your help. San Antonio needs a BASIS Primary school, and we can get one in 2015-16, but only if enough parents and charter school supporters write letters, right now.
As you may already know, there are currently two BASIS campuses in San Antonio: BASIS San Antonio (serving grades 5-10 in 2015-16) and BASIS San Antonio North (serving grades 5-9 in 2015-16). BASIS provides a world-class, accelerated education; some of the school’s accolades are listed in this earlier post. Both campuses are currently offering open enrollment through December 19, 2014; apply here. (All the applications received during open enrollment are treated the same in the lottery; after December 19, applications will be handled first-come, first-served.)
In 2012, when BASIS applied for and received for its Texas charter (earlier post), the application specified that the schools would serve grades 5-12; at that time, BASIS Primary was still in the planning stages in Arizona. “BASIS to open first K-thru-fourth-grade school”, Jamar Younger and Tim Steller, Arizona Daily Star, January 12, 2013.
The first BASIS Primary school opened in 2013-14 in Tucson, serving grades K-4. Each classroom combines a Subject Expert Teacher (in Humanities, Math, Mandarin, Art, etc.) with a Learning Expert Teacher who is knowledgeable about child development; read more. BASIS Primary has been so successful that three new campuses were added this year (2014-15), with plans to open two or more new schools in Arizona next year (2015-16), as Associate Vice President Jason Shorbe explained during his recent visit to San Antonio.
BASIS Primary schools provide a solid education for young children and are excellent preparation for the rigorous curriculum of BASIS’s higher grades. So, how do we get a BASIS Primary school in San Antonio in 2015-16? The current Texas charter for BASIS only allows for 5-12 schools; in order to open a BASIS Primary school in Texas, BASIS would need to amend its charter.
Under Texas regulations, a charter school has to operate for three years in Texas before it can apply for a charter amendment. The three-year requirement can be waived by Commissioner of Education Michael Williams. BASIS has applied for a waiver twice this year, and been turned down twice. It’s not a matter of quality—BASIS has world-class schools in Arizona, and is off to a strong start in Texas. My best guess is that there is political pressure to prevent BASIS from opening a Primary school in San Antonio in 2015-16.
As charter school parents and supporters, we have the power to create our own political pressure. All we have to do is speak up en mass. If enough parents and friends write letters to our elected officials expressing our need for a BASIS Primary school in San Antonio in 2015-16, I believe we can cut through the red tape. But we need to act quickly.
Here is what I am asking you to do. Please download the letter template and make it your own. Look up your elected officials and add their names to the list of addressees. Explain why you want a BASIS Primary school for your young children, and for our community. If your handwriting is legible, please write your letter out by hand; if not, please write it in a word processor and sign it by hand. When it’s done, please scan and send it to me at inga.cotton [at] gmail [dot] com, or contact me to set up a way to hand deliver the letter.
On Tuesday, December 9, 2014, at 9 a.m., BASIS San Antonio will be hosting a Charters 101 session to educate parents about charter school myths and realities; see the slides. After the Charters 101 session, my friends and I will be on hand to help parents write letters; please let me know if you can join us there. Also, on Facebook, I created a group called BASIS Primary San Antonio to help coordinate the effort. And, the BASIS San Antonio Boosters donated a box of BASIS T-shirts in youth sizes, S and XS, for families who write letters in support of BASIS Primary.
We need to send as many letters as possible as quickly as possible. Please share the link to this post and ask friends and family to write letters, too. If we stand up and raise our voices as charter schools parents, then we can be effective advocates for our schools and our children. If we remain silent, we are in danger of losing what we already have: the schools we love—that are educating our children and creating a brighter future for our city.