My kids weren’t old enough, or I would have enrolled them in BASIS for 2013-14. But I keep in touch with a lot of BASIS parents, some of whom learned about the school from me. For many, the school has exceeded their expectations, giving their children a new level of maturity and sense of purpose. For some, the pressure and culture of the new school was a source of stress and heartbreak.
The BASIS parents have been buzzing about a blog post, “Parent Horror Stories from BASIS: Corporate Charter Hurting Children?”, Julian Vasquez Heilig, Cloaking Inequity, June 8, 2014. Dr. Vasquez Heilig relates the tragic stories of two families who experienced heartbreak at BASIS San Antonio.
I feel deep empathy towards the families whose stories are told in Dr. Vasquez Heilig’s blog post. Although not to the same degree, I experienced something similar when my son, F.T., was in kindergarten in 2012-13 in our local public school. This guest post from August 2013 talks in broad terms about our choice to homeschool. I have not written in detail about what happened in the 2012-13 school year; someday, F.T. might wish that I hadn’t. Also, it might be taken as an attack on our local public school, and I really just want everyone to get along. We can all work together to improve, rather than fighting each other. (However, I still feel a little sick every time I see a Go Public banner. See “School Choice Advocate Responds to ‘Go Public’ Campaign”, Inga Munsinger Cotton, Rivard Report, November 12, 2013.)
Like the parents in Dr. Vasquez Heilig’s blog post, I felt that my son was suffering, and I felt that the school was not communicating with me. It’s a terrible dilemma: I didn’t want to be a quitter, I wanted to try everything to make it work, and I felt social pressure to stay in the local public school. Ultimately, I chose to create the school I wanted—homeschooling—as discussed in this earlier post. Still, I have asked myself many times if I could have handled things differently. Was I an effective advocate for my son? Should I have realized sooner that the school was not a good fit? For now, I have forgiven myself, and made the most of my homeschool year with F.T.
Dr. Vasquez Heilig’s blog post makes me uncomfortable, however, because I feel like he is exploiting these parents’ stories for the purpose of discrediting BASIS. Also, he makes personal attacks against my friend Victoria Rico.
I am still recommending that parents look into sending their children to BASIS San Antonio and the new campus opening this fall, BASIS San Antonio North, which is still taking applications. BASIS is offering a rigorous education that is not otherwise available in San Antonio. I have met the leaders of both campuses and I trust they are learning from the experiences of the 2013-14 school year.
Parents need information about charter schools so they can make informed decisions, and that is my goal here. BASIS San Antonio parents, if you want to share your experience—good or bad—below, please leave a comment. Unlike Dr. Vasquez Heilig, I do not delete comments that I disagree with.