Monday, February 13, 2012

Penn Quarter's Charter School

As more and more young professionals choose to have families in Penn Quarter, the question of schooling is always a tricky one.  Do you bus the kids out to 'burbs?  Or keep them in a city school?

The answer may get a bit easier come fall.  BASIS, an Arizona-based charter school, will open its doors to the 319 students currently enrolled in September.  BASIS will be located at 412 8th Street, just across the street from the Lansburgh (an easy enough commute for those kids!).

BASIS founders Olga and Michael Block developed a European-style curriculum in order to keep American students competitive in a global economy.  Students will be required to take six AP exams before graduation, and receive instruction in physics, chemistry and biology for nine hours a week.  Eighth graders are required to pass a University of Cambridge international benchmarking exam.

Concerned your kids would be behind if enrolled?  An article in today's Washington Post reports that the curriculum will be tweaked next school year in order to "meet kids where they've been" and allow them to catch up to the BASIS standards -- standards that earned each of the Arizona BASIS schools national ranking with Newsweek, the Washington Post, and U.S. News & World Report.

Some critics have said that BASIS was able to be so successful because of Arizona's far less diverse student population.  BASIS answered by announcing their dual track in foreign languages: one for native/bilingual speakers in grammar, writing and literature, and one for those who are new to the language, whether it be French, Spanish or Mandarin.

If nothing else, the school promises an influx of students to our neighborhood come fall - which will bring bus and parent traffic, among other things.  One for the pro column, certainly: we have to think that the demand for the larger Penn Quarter condos will rise as parents begin to consider our neighborhood family-friendly.

APRIL 24 UPDATE:  At the Downtown DC BID's State of Downtown, it was announced that the school is now oversubscribed.


  1. Just because a school is in our neighborhood - doesn't mean it's for the kids in our neighborhood. Charter schools (and the process) give equal chance to a kid right next door, as a kid 4 miles away in Ward 8.

  2. We don't disagree - however - the school is currently underenrolled (319 out of BASIS' target of 400), so it seems like local families could enroll fairly easily if they so desired.