A US District Court Judge in Virginia has ordered TJ to cease using its new admissions system

Exactly. How many times do people tout - do what you love and are good at and the rest will fall in place. The kids who get into schools like this are not necessarily getting in because parents were “gaming the system” but because they were teaching themselves chess or coding at an extremely young age. Should the parents have told their kids to stop being intellectually curious? Or enrolled them in a chess camp? What if your child is really curious and good at art? Do you encourage and help them blossom or hold them back to be equitable? And the classes are advanced so they have to be on advanced track by definition to meet the magnet curriculum. You have to take algebra 1 and geometry in 7th and 8th grade so you can take higher level math in 9th and 10th. If you’re not there, you’re not there. That’s not gaming anything. That’s natural ability, interest, and priorities at play. Some of the top high schools in the country have amazing football teams paid for by tax dollars. Not everyone makes the team equitably represented according to race/ethnicity.


This isn’t the TJ case. In the same actors (Pacific Legal) filing a similar suit across the river in Maryland

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What’s interesting is that magnet schools often lose a certain percentage of kids after 9th grade, at least here they do - these are kids who wanted the extra challenge and tested to show they could handle the advanced courses. And they still often find it’s too much or they don’t want it after all.
I think if you start having these schools by lottery only and removing any test component, there will either be more students leaving after first year (leaving demographics possibly same/similar) or parents will complain the curriculum is too hard and advocate to lower the bar to lower the stress/work load. I have no evidence- just making a guess as to 2 potential outcomes.

I agree.

For example, my kids attend a BASIS.ed school. Their HS’s tend to make top national US News & World Report rankings. Chandler is #11, Oro Valley is #27, Scottsdale - #29, Peoria - #30, Flagstaff - #42, etc.

I know that for all of the BASIS schools in AZ, enrollment follows the AZ charter school laws. This requires there to NOT be an entrance exam. Children of school employees get 1st priority of enrollment, followed by returning students re-enrolling for the following school year. After that, you get priority if you have a sibling already attending that BASIS school. Then for the spaces that are left, if there are more students applying to enroll then there are spaces available, it’s a lottery.

The norm, from what I’ve seen and from what the school administrators have told me, is that there’s a drop off in enrollment after 8th grade. BASIS kids leave for a variety of reasons:

  • they want a more ‘traditional’ high school experience. For example, none of the BASIS schools have football teams. Or they want to do cheerleading. Or have a homecoming dance, be part of the marching band, etc., etc.
  • the student wants to compete for their HS in a sport.
  • the student/parents feel that the kid won’t have to work as hard for good grades if they attend a different school.
  • the parents are tired of driving their kid to/from school every day and they want kiddo to take the bus, ride their bike, walk, etc. to the local public HS instead.
  • the student/parents feel that the curriculum is too hard.

There are a lot of passionate opinions here in the state of AZ about BASIS schools. There are also a lot of false rumors that float around among parents whose kids do not attend BASIS…the rumor, for example, that you have to test in. This is totally untrue. If charter schools in AZ required that, they technically would be breaking the law.

We used to live in Tucson for many years. My kids attended BASIS Tucson Primary & BASIS Tucson North while we lived there. The BASIS schools in the Tucson area tend to be ~ 40% Hispanic. Another good percent are families of Asian descent (Indian included). ~10% are Native American, and the rest Caucasian. In Tucson, the population of families spread across lower middle class to upper middle class. Some parents, for example, were UPS drivers. There were A LOT of immigrant families. At the Tucson schools, a fairly decent % of immigrant families from Africa, for example. But also from all over Asia, India, Europe, everywhere.

Now we live in the Phoenix metro area. Our BASIS school has fewer Hispanic students than when we lived in Tucson. And fewer African immigrant families than in Tucson but the rest of the diversity make-up is a majority of Asian/Indian families, followed by Caucasian, Hispanic/Latino, African/African-American. Still a huge international component to the school. Many of my kids’ friends’ parents are from other countries and the families go overseas during the summer to visit relatives in their country of origin.

The curriculum IS hard. It requires student & parents to be willing to do the work. If you fail a bunch of your classes, they WILL have you repeat the grade. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen. What happens more often is interventions occur way before that happens…students go to teachers’ office hours after school, kids who are struggling are signed up automatically for extra peer tutoring, parents are encouraged to meet 1-on-1 w/the teachers & administration in order to put together an overall plan for getting the kid back on track. This has happened w/my D24…during middle school, she struggled in a couple of classes.

The school is very clear in explaining its philosophy that EVERY student is capable of succeeding, but they’re also clear that their school system might not work for every family out there. If you want to be able to coast, don’t enroll your kid here.

That being said, I know hands down that it’s a system that works for my kids and for our situation. At their campus, there is pretty much zero bullying. It’s one of the most accepting & collaborative learning environments I’ve ever come across. ALL of the students are encouraged to be their true selves. If you have a unique or different interest? That’s celebrated there and you are encouraged to pursue it further. LBGT, transgender, and all that? Total acceptance.

It’s been an elite boarding school level of quality of education and we pay $0 tuition for it. The school has 2 school counselors…1 of whom works entirely just with the seniors to help them get into college. During senior year, of the students’ classes is a 1 period/day class w/the senior school counselor and it’s entirely focused on college apps. They talk fairly often about how, on average, BASIS students earn over $100,000/student in college scholarships. When hired, teachers are informed that they are expected and required to write multiple letters of recommendation each year.

To be honest, I don’t like the requirement that public magnet schools have that you have to pass an entrance exam in order to have the opportunity to enroll. D24 isn’t a great standardized test taker. When we moved here to the Phoenix area, we looked into having her enroll through such a program through our local school district and she didn’t score high enough. It’s all for the best, though, because we ended up sticking with BASIS instead and it’s worked out really well. I prefer the open enrollment system instead because it really does level the playing field. It gives disadvantaged students the opportunity to at least get in and have a shot…so if they’re not great test takers, if they get a lottery spot, then they’re in and that’s that.

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