As I mention on my About page (archive), I’ve been a school choice supporter for a long time, but my long-time friend Victoria Rico inspired me to do something about it—namely, start this blog. Victoria is chairwoman and trustee of the George W. Brackenridge Foundation, and recently wrote an op-ed in the Express-News explaining how high-performing charter schools will transform education in San Antonio. “Despite social ills, students in charter schools succeed”, Victoria Rico, San Antonio Express-News, January 18, 2014. I recommend reading the article and, if you have a moment, please leave a comment to show your support.
The Express-News chose Shelley Potter, President of the San Antonio Alliance of Teachers and Support Personnel (part of Texas AFT), to present the opposing point of view: “Charter schools don’t measure up to the hype”, Shelley Potter, San Antonio Express-News, January 18, 2014. Potter invokes the name of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Yesterday, at the MLK March, I saw a group of BASIS San Antonio students and parents carrying a multi-colored banner—see the photo above. BASIS San Antonio students believe in community service; see this earlier post about their visit to the San Antonio Food Bank.
Richard Gross, President of the BASIS San Antonio Boosters, left this comment on Potter’s article:
Fear. It is a terrible thing. It causes the most well meaning individual to commit terrible acts.
Ms. Potter is falling victim to her fear.
Fear of the unknown—an environment where the public school system has to excel in order to attract students and funding dollars.
A fear of fair competition—is this not the basic tenet of the American way of life? Not in education—according to Ms. Potter. She advocates for a system that is broken. A system where if you live in San Antonio and cannot afford to send your children to private school, you have no choice but to send your children to the broken and under achieving public schools that Ms. Potter advocates for.
So how does she react to her fear? Does she roll up her sleeves, work hard and bring improvements to her broken system? No—she tells outright lies in an effort to demonize charter schools like BASIS. She lobbies against them to the public and also to our elected officials in a self serving effort to preserve her funding.
Public school officials do not want parents to have a choice. They want to preserve the monopoly of ineffectual schooling. Public schools will never improve if they remain monopolistic, but I guarantee you will see them improve dramatically once they are forced to compete with the better performing charter schools in an effort to gain funding dollars.
As a parent, I tell you that my choice for my daughter’s school in San Antonio would be an elite private school at high cost or a free charter school like BASIS.
Which of San Antonio’s public middle or high schools are ranked within the top 10 in the country? If there were one, I would withdraw my daughter from BASIS and send her there.
I urge the community to find out the truth about BASIS and other charter schools. Visit BASIS and check the facts for yourself.
You will quickly discover that BASIS does not select students, there are no barriers to admission, we serve an ethnically diverse student population made up of all races, religions, abilities and economic strata. We do not charge for textbooks and our extracurricular fees and field trip charges are similar to those charged by the public school system. We do serve special needs children.
Contrary to the erroneous information in Ms. Potter’s article, you will find that 54% of our teachers have masters or doctoral degrees and moreover, the degree they hold is in the subject they are teaching. My daughter is learning Biology and Latin from teachers who have doctoral degrees in Biology and Classics. I would call this group of teachers way more qualified than those in the public school system.
All of this is achieved with less funding per student than a traditional public school receives. A better education for less cost to the taxpayers, do you now see the fear that Ms. Potter and her associates are feeling.
Freedom of choice—having a PUBLIC CHARTER school, like BASIS, that provides an elite education for all those students who want to work hard on their studies, regardless of race, religion, ability or economic background.
Contrary to Ms. Potter’s opinion, I believe that is something the great Dr. Martin Luther King would march for.
Well said, Richard.