This week we will revisit (and update) a Facebook series we posted last Fall highlighting the history of the Barney Charter School Initiative (BCSI) along with some of the milestone schools that have been founded over the last decade.
The Barney Charter School Initiative started in 2010 at Hillsdale Academy—a private school on the Hillsdale College campus. At the time, most classical schools throughout the country were, like Hillsdale Academy, private schools (or homeschool coops). These schools and coops were doing wonderful things but often presented a barrier to entry for many families—the expense of tuition related to the former and the time, gifting, and commitment required for the latter. Therefore, the charter school movement was determined to be the best mechanism to pursue the expansion of classical education as it eliminated those barriers. BCSI was thus born to help families and grass roots organizations like us get such schools off of the ground in their local communities.
BCSI does not start the schools nor does it fund the schools. It also does not have a role in the governance of the schools or receive any money in return for its support. Instead, the driving initiative and effort come from the local group of interested and motivated citizens who apply to BCSI through an extensive application process. Having successfully gone through this process in the summer of 2020, we can attest to its thoroughness and rigor. It requires a founding group think through all the important variables of starting a school in their community to ensure that they are equipped and prepared to put in the work required to start a new charter school.