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BASIS schools are known for their high standards and their high attrition rate. There is a BASIS school in Washington, D.C., where students are taking very hard courses and “many”withdraw in January (and, according to Guy Brandenburg) “because they realize that they are on track to fail one or more courses for the semester and will therefore have to repeat the entire grade — something that would not happen at any other school that I know of.” The answer, Mathews suggests: more elite, highly selective schools. This, of course, leaves the public schools worse off, with only the students who can’t meet the high standards.
Jay Mathews of the Washington Post argues here that low-income students are up to the challenge of the most rigorous schools. Apparently the problem with public education is that schools have low expectations. Make the schools harder, and the students will rise to the challenge.
If that were true, perhaps the “failure” rate on the Common Core tests would not be 70%, including 97% of ELLs in New York, and more than 80% of black and Hispanic students.
The biggest problem in education is not what to do with those low-income students who can meet the highest standards, but what to do to help those who cannot. That was supposed to be the purpose of charter schools–to find innovative ways to educate the kids who are failing and unmotivated–not to provide an escape for the most talented students.