Monday, 2/6/17 Basis Independent Brooklyn School

Michael and Olga Block founded Basis as a charter school in Tucson, AZ in 1998. Their goal was to compete with European and Asian educational models and incorporate American innovation. Each child from K – 4th grade is required to take Mandarin. Engineering classes start in Pre-K. Students take chemistry, biology and physics every year in middle school. To graduate each student must complete six AP classes (most take 10). Many students graduate after junior year.

Michael and Olga Block founded Basis as a charter school in Tucson, AZ in 1998. Their goal was to compete with European and Asian educational models and incorporate American innovation. Each child from K – 4th grade is required to take Mandarin. Engineering classes start in Pre-K. Students take chemistry, biology and physics every year in middle school. To graduate each student must complete six AP classes (most take 10). Many students graduate after junior year.

I always try to arrive early for readings. It gives me an opportunity to assimilate into the space and get a feel for the school and staff. I have to admit it’s one of my favorite parts. I sat on a bench in the lobby area and watched pre-k children enter the school. Their backpacks were larger than they were. At Basis, parents aren’t allowed to come into the school. Each child is met at the entrance doors and escorted to their classroom. One disheveled father had two packaged snacks and apologized as he explained, “I have the snacks. I forgot the backpack.” I chuckled a little inside as I remembered how difficult it is to keep everything organized for kids. 

I always try to arrive early for readings. It gives me an opportunity to assimilate into the space and get a feel for the school and staff. I have to admit it’s one of my favorite parts. I sat on a bench in the lobby area and watched pre-k children enter the school. Their backpacks were larger than they were. At Basis, parents aren’t allowed to come into the school. Each child is met at the entrance doors and escorted to their classroom. One disheveled father had two packaged snacks and apologized as he explained, “I have the snacks. I forgot the backpack.” I chuckled a little inside as I remembered how difficult it is to keep everything organized for kids. 

Traci Moon, aka Stella, is a Pre-K teacher at Basis Independent Brooklyn school. Her father + my father = great friends. That is the connection which led me to this school. I had no idea how awesome this school was, until I arrived. 

Traci Moon, aka Stella, is a Pre-K teacher at Basis Independent Brooklyn school. Her father + my father = great friends. That is the connection which led me to this school. I had no idea how awesome this school was, until I arrived. 

Red Hook is a neighborhood in the NYC borough of Brooklyn. Organized in the 1600’s it was named for the red clay soil and the point of land which projects into the Upper NY Bay. In 1990 Life Magazine named Red Hook one of the “worst” neighborhoods in the US and as the “crack” capital of America. It is the only part of NYC which has a fully frontal view of the Statue of Liberty. The largest public housing project in Brooklyn is located in Red Hook.

Red Hook is a neighborhood in the NYC borough of Brooklyn. Organized in the 1600’s it was named for the red clay soil and the point of land which projects into the Upper NY Bay. In 1990 Life Magazine named Red Hook one of the “worst” neighborhoods in the US and as the “crack” capital of America. It is the only part of NYC which has a fully frontal view of the Statue of Liberty. The largest public housing project in Brooklyn is located in Red Hook.

The new school is beautiful. To reach the entrance there is a large set of stairs to climb. I followed a little guy and his father up. The closer we got to the entrance, the more tears began to fall. He had forgotten an animal at home. The four-year-old did his best to coerce his father to, “go get it,” but his tears were not effective.

The new school is beautiful. To reach the entrance there is a large set of stairs to climb. I followed a little guy and his father up. The closer we got to the entrance, the more tears began to fall. He had forgotten an animal at home. The four-year-old did his best to coerce his father to, “go get it,” but his tears were not effective.

The light streamed through the front wall of windows and I removed my winter coat. The greeters were super jolly. An American flag was blowing firmly across the street in a park. I didn’t know this was the new Basis playground. The fresh clean white paint conflicted with the grey abandoned warehouses. It reminded me of a saying, “One side life, one side death.”    Tiny legs with clumsy boots and heads covered in colorful hats paraded in front of me. Noises filtered through the halls from classrooms. The rise and fall of student conversations interrupted with muffled teacher instructions. There was something comforting with this background noise. It was 8:57 a.m. Was I ready for 60 four-year-olds? I always get a bit anxious before readings. I was trying to decide how I felt when I heard “Happy Birthday Ella” being sung at the end of the hall. They continued, “Are you one? Are you two? Are you three,“ and when they got to ten, claps erupted. Ella was apparently ten.   More children were dropped off. It soon became noteworthy, how some children confidently marched down the hall, while others were more reluctant to leave their moms. I was thinking this as a cool kid came strolling in wearing dark sunglasses. Not kidding. He had super cute black high-top sneakers on with his black tie-dye Jan Sport backpack casually slung over his shoulders. As his mother turned to leave she said, “Have the best day ever. Bye x man, love you.” She had the easy swagger as well. The comfort and ease with which she was navigating life had been adopted by her son. In fifteen seconds, I knew she would have been my choice for a friend at this school. Laughter floats from the office as more pre-k students come in. Another mother said, “Be a good person. Love you. Have a good day buddy.” He kissed his mother and with his disheveled hair (which hadn’t seen a comb in days), he headed down the hall. Perfect dinosaur hair I thought. I exhaled. Show time. 

The light streamed through the front wall of windows and I removed my winter coat. The greeters were super jolly. An American flag was blowing firmly across the street in a park. I didn’t know this was the new Basis playground. The fresh clean white paint conflicted with the grey abandoned warehouses. It reminded me of a saying, “One side life, one side death.”

 

 Tiny legs with clumsy boots and heads covered in colorful hats paraded in front of me. Noises filtered through the halls from classrooms. The rise and fall of student conversations interrupted with muffled teacher instructions. There was something comforting with this background noise. It was 8:57 a.m. Was I ready for 60 four-year-olds? I always get a bit anxious before readings. I was trying to decide how I felt when I heard “Happy Birthday Ella” being sung at the end of the hall. They continued, “Are you one? Are you two? Are you three,“ and when they got to ten, claps erupted. Ella was apparently ten.

 

More children were dropped off. It soon became noteworthy, how some children confidently marched down the hall, while others were more reluctant to leave their moms. I was thinking this as a cool kid came strolling in wearing dark sunglasses. Not kidding. He had super cute black high-top sneakers on with his black tie-dye Jan Sport backpack casually slung over his shoulders. As his mother turned to leave she said, “Have the best day ever. Bye x man, love you.” She had the easy swagger as well. The comfort and ease with which she was navigating life had been adopted by her son. In fifteen seconds, I knew she would have been my choice for a friend at this school. Laughter floats from the office as more pre-k students come in. Another mother said, “Be a good person. Love you. Have a good day buddy.” He kissed his mother and with his disheveled hair (which hadn’t seen a comb in days), he headed down the hall. Perfect dinosaur hair I thought. I exhaled. Show time. 

Basis Independent Brooklyn, a for profit and private institution, opened fall 2014. Basis Independent Manhattan (K-8) is scheduled to open fall 2017. Many Manhattan private schools exceed $40,000. Basis touts their ability to compete academically with these schools for a tuition price of $29,500. Basis claims they are able to charge less because they run with a leaner administrative structure. Their administrative focus can be solely on students and learning versus fundraising. Diversity is a top selling point and families who are accustomed to rigorous academic programs like overseas, prefer this environment and find it familiar.

Basis Independent Brooklyn, a for profit and private institution, opened fall 2014. Basis Independent Manhattan (K-8) is scheduled to open fall 2017. Many Manhattan private schools exceed $40,000. Basis touts their ability to compete academically with these schools for a tuition price of $29,500. Basis claims they are able to charge less because they run with a leaner administrative structure. Their administrative focus can be solely on students and learning versus fundraising. Diversity is a top selling point and families who are accustomed to rigorous academic programs like overseas, prefer this environment and find it familiar.

The readings were fun and went well. Traci took me upstairs to the fifth floor to see the view. Then we went down a floor to the art room. The view was magnificent. There was the Statue of Liberty, the river, and wrap-around windows which let the expanse of everything fill the room. Outside was inside and vice versa. Tremendous. Breathtaking. Basis school prioritizes science and math, but someone was doing something correct to give this space to the art room. 

In 2015 the Washington Post ranked BASIS.ed managed schools as #1, #2, and #6 in the US. It would appear their mission to bring the level of American education back to equaling or exceeding its peers in other countries is working. 

In 2015 the Washington Post ranked BASIS.ed managed schools as #1, #2, and #6 in the US. It would appear their mission to bring the level of American education back to equaling or exceeding its peers in other countries is working.