Where will your children be when the ‘Education Bubble’ bursts?

BASIS.ed co-founders Michael and Olga Block recently sat down with prolific author and magazine and newspaper columnist Amity Shlaes, author of “The Forgotten Man” and “Coolidge”, among many works. Shlaes, who lives in New York City, most often writes about economics and politics. In June, Shlaes sat with the Blocks for a lively chat on the beautiful top floor of BASIS Independent Brooklyn.

Read the full story, Bursting the Great American Bubble: High School, as published by Bloomberg News. We hope you enjoy it!

Amity Shlaes


  1. I really appreciated this article. Something that has stuck with me ever since I started working with BASIS Schools is that BASIS really gets students thinking on an intellectual level. The questions they ask and the things they wonder about amaze me. And the teachers and staff at BASIS fuel that and push them to reach for more. I’m very proud to be part of the BASIS team and to watch our students become more and more successful!

  2. I have been following BASIS for the past couple of years, and I was ecstatic to hear that they’re opening a new location in Fremont this fall!

    I have enrolled my son for the 1st grade at BASIS Independent Fremont. I decided to join BASIS Independent now, rather than waiting until middle or high school, because they have a world-class foundation! He’s currently at a public school here in Fremont, but I feel as if it is luck to get a good teacher. I don’t want to take that chance every year. Instead, I’ll be taking advantage of their smaller class sizes, and Subject Expert Teachers and Learning Expert Teachers. I’ve had the opportunity to meet a few of their teachers, they are very passionate! I know my son will love going to school everyday and learning because I know they’ll engage him in their classrooms.

    We cannot wait for the school year to begin!

  3. Three years ago, BASIS DC started as a public charter school in one of the most challenging public school districts in the nation. Since then, BASIS DC has become the best middle school of the public and private schools in Washington, DC. It is setting new high standards for the DC school system!

    I have had three children attend BASIS DC. I highly recommend it.

  4. BASIS is an amazing organization built on the ideal of educational excellence and challenging every student to their potential. At the same time we are challenging the teaching staff to teach to their highest potential utilizing their passion for their area of expertise. Talk about an amazing way to teach/learn!

  5. We’ve had a student at BASIS for three years, going into year four. We started them in sixth grade. The work is engaging and challenging. The focus is on academics. We think fitness & sport is important for kids. We just don’t think it should monopolize the culture of a high school as it does so often in the U.S. We are very happy so far and more importantly, so is our child.

  6. As both a BASIS parent and a BASIS teacher, I can honestly say that that BASIS is amazing! It has been wonderful for my son (who is a Junior at BOV). The school has challenged him to find his strengths and has encouraged him to build up the areas where he may not be as strong.

  7. As a parent of a new BASIS student in Fremont, CA, I appreciate the points raised in the article. My wife and I came to the USA from another country and have had the opportunity to compare the different education systems. I could completely relate to Olga Block’s comments about the pros and cons of the American education system. BASIS does try to bridge the gap and aims to provide a “best of both worlds” education. The teachers are definitely a significant differentiator. As mentioned in the article, the teachers are specialists in their respective fields and bring not just their knowledge but also their passion to the classroom. This, in my opinion, goes a long way towards developing the students’ interests and which in turn, leads to a better understanding of the topics. Having met with different teachers and parents of current students at BASIS, we are confident that we have made the right choice for our daughter.

  8. I believe that BASIS provides an education for students that not only prepares them for college, but also allows them to explore areas of learning that you can’t find anywhere else.

    BASIS Schools are ideal for students who thrive to be better and expand the limits of what they can achieve.

  9. I still cannot believe that I will start my teaching career in BASIS school this summer! This news is so cheerful and it encourages me to prepare better and expect more!

  10. Until I came across BASIS, I was alarmed at the prospect of putting our son through schools here. Even the most elite private schools we visited in Brooklyn didn’t have a curriculum I loved.

    The BASIS curriculum is the strongest I’ve seen. I’m not just talking about curriculum in mathematics and science, but also in non-STEM areas like Humanities. They start learning about parts of speech in first grade, as well as world and American history. They have visual arts, and performing arts classes, as well as music every week.

    BASIS Brooklyn has done a fantastic job hiring subject matter experts who instill a passion for learning in the students. Starting in Kindergarten, they have an Engineering class taught by physicists. When my son was in Kindergarten, I was talking to him about an experiment I’d read about which showed that light is made of waves. His response was “but mama, light is made up of particles called photons”. He told me that his engineering teacher had talked about it when they performed light experiments in class. I was blown away by it. I thought I’d had a terrific education in India, but even I didn’t know about photons in Kindergarten, nor did I know an adjective from an adverb until much later. They have an exceptional Mandarin teacher whose ability to engage even the little ones is amazing.

    Yes, it is an intense program, but the teachers make it a happy place to learn and the kids are excited to go to school every morning.

  11. BASIS pushes kids to the max, which is something I think a lot of parents appreciate because it’s stimulating and the kids love the challenge. BASIS is going in the direction more schools should be.

  12. After much debate and discussion, my husband and I picked the best school that we knew of for our children. And a day before submitting the acceptance letter and deposit, we found out about Basis and ended up going to an information session the following day. It changed everything for us. We finally felt that we didn’t need to settle on a school. We felt we found the match we were always seeking. The combination of Subject Matter Expert Teacher paired with a Learning Expert was in perfect sync with our thinking. Why would we ever ask one teacher to teach all topics, even if that teacher didn’t like a subject? We wouldn’t, it isn’t fair to the teacher, nor the students. The double-track teaching allows my kids to learn from someone that is both passionate and highly knowledgeable about their topic. I am so glad that Basis has decided to come to California and that my children will be able to benefit from their evidence-based educational system that has shown to produce some of the most well-adjusted and well-prepared students in the world. Thank you for not settling for the regular teaching methods because it has resulted in me not having to settle when it comes to my children’s education.

  13. We have been part of BASIS Ahwatukee for 3 years. The best part of the school is to see my children engaged and excited about what they are learning. The material covered is excellent. The teachers are very involved and want the children to succeed. If a child doesn’t understand a concept they hold weekly student hours at no cost just to make sure the child gets a better grip of the content. The teachers also hold weekly parent hours, in this way if a parent wants to schedule a conference it can be done at a very short notice. BASIS teaches the kids how to get organized, how to study, how to create a cool project. The classes are small and I believe every kid gets the opportunity to be recognized for their particular skills. Besides their outstanding academics we love their music and art programs. We feel very fortunate to have our children attend this great school.

  14. I started working at BASIS last year and I was amazed by their model. I was lucky to be able to travel with my little ones from class to class and be a part of their learning experience. All the subject teachers are very prepared to teach. I enjoyed working with small groups of children and being able to make sure they were learning and help with any questions they had. I love to see how all the children are happy and so engaged in class.

  15. Great article! Just another example of why the BASIS education is so important, and how much the schools do for the communities they serve!

  16. BASIS offers such a unique environment – one where students are able to be excited about what they are learning, and what grades they are getting. While the curriculum is challenging, it allows opportunity for growth and fosters a sense of curiosity that is otherwise hard to find.

  17. Great article! With that said, I can’t say enough positive things about Basis San Antonio Medical Center…..It has been so incredibly eye opening what a child is truly capable of! My son has excelled and has learned things that he would not have had an opportunity to be exposed to until later in his schooling years. I find the teachers extremely qualified and excited about what they are teaching. Having come from a private school, I wasn’t 100% sure what to expect, however, I am beyond impressed and very pleased with what I (we) have experienced not to mention my son’s academic achievements! BasisSAMC is a blessing for our son and family!

  18. We love BASIS because it aims at achieving the highest standard of academic excellence. We also care much about being able to develop our children to be independent, fun-loving, and caring, but basics such as science, technology, history, humanity are fundamental elements for the human beings to understand, interact with and change the world. BASIS is no-doubt among the top schools in the nation in these areas. There’s a reason that the U.S. presidents setting a mission for the American kids to become better intellectually at science and maths, and BASIS is a dream school to help achieve that mission for our future generations.

  19. I certainly agree with the premise, but..

    “Teachers don’t have to have teaching certificates. They have to be professionals in their areas of instruction.”
    BASIS leaders in the areas of curriculum and pedagogy are primarily teachers who had conventional education experience and certifications prior to joining BASIS.

    “The second assumption Basis skips is that high schoolers can do it all.”
    Many BASIS students ‘do it all’. They participate in sports, get involved in the community and pursue other personal interests. But at BASIS, the priority is academics and then the individual families can make decisions about how the rest of a student’s life is balanced.

    In my view BASIS succeeds because our parents and students are on-board with our academic standards and priorities. If parents do wish to de-prioritize academics, the BASIS administrators do not require teachers to lower classroom standards.

  20. BASIS is the first school that I’ve worked for that wholeheartedly trusts their teachers. Teachers are given complete autonomy in their classrooms, while still getting great support from our leaders.

  21. We have been thrilled with our family’s experience at Basis SAN Antonio North Central. We are going into year 3 with our daughter and our son starting in 5th next year. We heeded all counsel regarding the shift in learning and early adjustment challenges and made it through (3months). Now it is our new normal. Our students our proud of attending the best school in Texas and recently excelled in the state exam for 9th graders (they’re in 6th grade)!!! They learn accountability, resilience and achievement. We drink from the koolaid and believe in the model. And yes they are still Children albeit more sophisticated thought leaders.

  22. I completely agree with this op=ed, BASIS deserves the recognition it gets here. Our daughter, who is starting 10th grade in the fall, is very happy with BASIS Independent Brooklyn. We’ve seen her grow in her knowledge of science, math and the humanities, and that’s due to the steep learning curve. This is a challenging, demanding curriculum. The teachers are not just content specialists, they are also compassionate, caring, dedicated individuals with solid pedagogical skills, proving that one doesn’t need an M.A. in education to be an excellent teacher.

  23. We are excited to join the Basis family and what that means for our children’s future!

  24. As a founding member of the BASIS school board, it has been wonderful to watch the growth and success of the BASIS schools over the past 20 years. BASIS started as a small middle school in Tucson. Olga Block was shocked at the low academic performance of the middle school choices she had for her daughter compared to in the Czech Republic. Michael Block informed her that Arizona had a charter school law and told her to start her own school. And she did! The establishment complained, picketed, and even tried to block the purchase of property conducive to building a school. Olga and Michael overcame the opposition, and now 10,000 Arizona K-12 students attend BASIS schools. With high standards, knowledgable and enthusiastic teachers, and accountability, BASIS schools are among the best in the world.

    Now I have two grandchildren at BASIS Oro Valley, and I have learned a secret shared by BASIS parents and grandparents–BASIS is fun! The diverse student body is engaged, cooperative, and enthusiastic. The kids can’t wait to get to school in the morning.

  25. Both of my sons have been attending BASIS San Antonio North Central for the past year and a half. They were both in GT programs at our assigned public school, but while they enjoyed that program, the rest of their classes failed to stimulate or challenge them academically/intellectually. We made the decision to move both of them to BSANC in the middle of the school year when we were lucky enough to acquire spots for each of them. It was the best decision we could have made for our children in regards to their intellectual and social development. The academic and social environment of BASIS schools is a perfect match for our kids, although I realize it may not be for other kids. BASIS schools are ideal for kids that are intelligent, hard-working, curious and driven by intellectual challenges rather than athletics and typical social activities. While BASIS still offers their students these more “typical” extracurriculars for those students that are interested, the focus of the school is on learning at an advanced pace, teaching self-reliance and accountability, and having a diverse school population with students that become global citizens. For those that say the BASIS model doesn’t allow kids to be kids and have fun before college, talk to any students (including mine!) that attend a BASIS school and they will prove you wrong. The comment I hear the most from my kids since starting at BSANC is “they finally found a school where they feel like they fit in”. A parent can’t ask for more than that!

  26. My Son left me a little dumbfounded, when he said “I’ve learned more in my first three days of Basis than I did in the whole 4th grade (at a local public school)”. He went on to say that “I want to stay in Basis till I graduate high school”. He has since completed 5th grade at Basis and is moving on to the 6th…his enthusiasm is still high!!! My guess is that Basis is doing something right…and I LOVE it!!!

  27. I am a teacher at Basis in AZ. I really love Basis because the students and the teachers/staff are so great. I have been teaching for years and I have never seen students so excited to learn! Basis offers a great education and a great learning environment.

  28. My Youngest is attending BASIS Mesa this year as a 4th grader. She recently attended the BOSS Camp and is so excited. The opportunities these young people get to experience at BASIS is so wonderful I only wish my 4 other children had the same opportunity.

  29. We are extremely happy with BASIS school’s focus on the total development of the children.
    We are a founding family at BASIS Independent Silicon Valley, and my child started from 9th grade.
    My child actually likes the academic rigorousness and he is doing quite well. His academic ability is evident from the College Board exam results and the national contests that he has participated.
    Apart from the academic side, what we really like about the school is the excellent support and encouragement he receives to pursue his passion outside of school. Everyone at BASIS, from administrative staff to teachers have been extremely supportive. He is able to take time off from regular school days to be able to pursue his passion, and later catch up on school work too. We have never received this kind of support from his previous schools.
    This culture of support enables the child to think beyond their academics and to realize their own potential and passion; which is why we have now enrolled our second child at BASIS Independent Fremont School.

  30. My son has been a student at Basis Peoria going on 4 years now, and the grown I have seen within him is amazing! I personally believe Basis is grooming the future leaders of this great nation!

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