In 2018, five charter schools run by Basis in Arizona were ranked as the top five public high schools in America, according to US News. This year, US News changed its school ranking methodology to a more holistic approach and the highest-ranking BASIS school is now at number 3 on the list. June Kronholz wrote about BASIS charter schools for EdNext in 2014.
That same year, the BASIS founders announced that they would create a separate network of private schools based on the same model. The first BASIS private school opened later that year in Brooklyn. BASIS also opened a school in China.
Last month, BASIS Independent Schools was sold to a company backed by a China-based investment firm. (The sale does not affect the charter schools.) Leslie Brody of the Wall Street Journal reports that families at the private BASIS Independent School in New York City have written a letter to the company expressing concern about what this sale will mean for their school.
Some parents are worried that BASIS private schools will no longer be so closely connected to the high-performing BASIS charter schools. Other parents are worried about the fact that the sale involves China. According to Brody, one New York City parent said the purchase of the school by a group backed by Chinese investors raised questions about privacy of children’s personal data. “What does that mean for our kids’ school records and medical records?” she asked. “Will they follow the rules?”
This is not the first case of Chinese investors buying private K-12 schools in the U.S. The group which purchased BASIS Independent Schools now controls more than 238 schools with 41,000 students, Brody reports. The schools are located in 18 states. Last year, the group, called Spring Education Group, purchased Nobel Learning.
Nobel Learning Communities, Inc. operates a network of for-profit private schools that include preschools, elementary schools, middle schools, and specialty high schools. (Most private schools are non-profits.) The company also provides various supplemental educational services, including before and after-school programs, a summer program, learning support programs, and camps.
Before it purchased Nobel Learning, Spring Education Group purchased Stratford Schools, which operates for-profit private pre-schools, elementary schools, and middle schools in California.
Spring Education Group is a portfolio company of Primavera Capital Group.
According to its website, Primavera Capital Group is a China-based global investment firm which manages funds “for leading institutions, corporations, and families in China and around the world.”
— Education Next