Ceremonial groundbreaking for West Seattle charter school Summit Atlas

charter1
(WSB photos by Patrick Sand)

Tonight’s ceremonial “groundbreaking” for West Seattle’s first charter school, Summit Atlas, happened indoors. That’s where the first phase of work to convert the former church/supermarket site at 9601 35th SW will happen – starting next week, according to Summit officials.

It’s been two years since we broke the news that this school was on the way, after discovering an early-stage plan in city files. Tonight, Summit displayed renderings of how the campus will look once they’ve added Phase II, an addition so there’s eventually room for full sixth through 12th grades:

charterdrawings

Right now, they have about 125 applicants, split between the sixth and ninth grades with which Summit Atlas will be launched in August, Summit officials told us tonight. They’re accepting applications through March 10th, with a lottery set for the next day if they have more applicants than spaces (they had told us last summer they expected to launch with about 100 students in each of those two grades). The school’s executive director (principal) is Katie Bubalo:

charterkatie

We introduced you to Bubalo in this story last August, when the school year began at Summit Sierra in the ID, one of the two schools Summit (based in California) has already opened in Western Washington. Summit told us that the changes made to their building there are similar to what they plan here. A Summit Sierra 9th grader, Jayla Foster, spoke at tonight’s event:

charterfoster

She said she hopes to become a doctor, and appreciates the “personal attention” the school offers.

Summit Atlas originally was slated to open in fall of last year, but was pushed back a year amid the battle over state funding for charter schools. While a bill passed to provide money from a lottery-related source, charter opponents went to court again and that suit hasn’t been resolved yet. Charters also have support from donors such as those funding the organization that bought and is fixing up the 35th/Roxbury site for Summit Atlas.

56 Replies to "Ceremonial groundbreaking for West Seattle charter school Summit Atlas"

  • WestCake February 3, 2017 (6:10 am)

    The charter schools are vampires and suck the lifeblood, i.e. funds, out of the public school system.  Schools for profit are disgusting. 

    • Zombie February 3, 2017 (11:05 am)

      Your vampire reference clearly shows you are about 15 years behind the times. Get educated the charter schools are stealing your precious money but they are educating, very successfully, an underserved population.

  • WS since '66 February 3, 2017 (6:42 am)

    Charter schools suck money from public schools. Our public schools aren’t even fully funded yet funds are siphoned off for this?  Since the lawsuit is still
    pending why would they go ahead? Here’s hoping we citizens prevail in court over
    the charter school con.

    • Pat February 3, 2017 (11:57 am)

      That’s an old view on a new world. Charter schools around the nation are bringing solid educations to students in traditionally underserved populations. Look at the West Seattle school options and how they rank. Why would we not try something different, especially with the results other places have seen?

      • AJP February 3, 2017 (8:57 pm)

        How about we fully fund public schools first. How can we say schools aren’t doing a good enough job, when they don’t have the resources to do a good job in the first place? 

      • AJP February 3, 2017 (8:58 pm)

        How can we say schools aren’t doing a good enough job, when they don’t have the resources to do a good job in the first place? 

  • Scott February 3, 2017 (7:44 am)

    Welcome to the community Summit Atlas!   

  • Lisa February 3, 2017 (8:59 am)

    Say it isn’t so! Charter schools are not the “Godsend” people think they are in terms of overall performance. Over time they prove to be the same or often worse than public schools. They’re such a rip off. I know, “but your kid is doing well”. I’m talking overall data. Just one more corporate takeover of government since the election. Now there’s one in Arbor Heights—- argh!

    • WSB February 3, 2017 (9:17 am)

      Re: “since the election” – just to be clear, this has been on the way for two years – as noted, again, above. We found out about the plan from land-use permit files in January 2015 and started reporting on what was planned, who was planning it, the purchase of the site, etc. Washington state voters narrowly approved charter schools (50.6% yes, 49.3% no) in the November 2012 vote on statewide I-1240.

    • Ric February 3, 2017 (9:32 am)

      Is there a way to put the blame for GW on this maybe? 

  • Lisa February 3, 2017 (9:30 am)

    I’m aware of that, but now it’ll be harder to fight against charter schools  (even ones that had plans in place before  Trump)with DeVos as Education Secretary. Backers of the myth of overall success for charter schools will go largely unchecked now. Maybe Summit Atlas would’ve been challenged again. Remember, Washington voters didn’t originally want charter schools but were worn down into voting for them by ballot repetition. I live in Arbor Heights and this is just one more ugly reminder of Trump’s hostile corporate takeover of America.

  • L.A.S. February 3, 2017 (9:39 am)

    Way to go Jayla! I’m so proud of you for being brave and speaking about your dreams.

    • Jayla F. February 3, 2017 (11:54 am)

      Thank you so much. You’ll probably be seeing more of that…. but less nervous.

  • mergirl February 3, 2017 (9:48 am)

    Charter schools are vampires, plain and simple.  Don’t believe it? Here is the test: Would the charter school accept a struggling student, in need of lots of extra help and accommodation, and unable to pay to attend? The answer is probably no, but they would gladly siphon off the money that would otherwise help that student in the public school system. The concept of a charter school might look better if it was an equal opportunity private school with a charter “concept” relying only on private funds, but these schools bleed resources away from those who truly need them on top of reenforcing and widening the classism and socio-economic divisions that already exist. We need more public magnet schools like Pathfinder and STEM, not these terrible For Profit schools.

    • Scott February 3, 2017 (10:50 am)

      Actually, mergirl, the answer to YOUR test question is yes.   I have personally witnessed it at Summit Sierra.   A student I know personally was struggling at the neighborhood SPS school.  The student applied, was accepted, and has been warmly welcomed at Summit Sierra.    Pay to attend?  I don’t understand what you mean by this, as Summit Public Schools are tuition-free, and there are no fees associated with enrolling in the
      schools.    I was not always a supporter, but I am now.  I speak only from what I know.    

      • mergirl February 3, 2017 (7:26 pm)

        My post wasn’t referencing tuition, it was a general test to any charter school.

        I’m happy that you have personally seen success. I have heard of many individual cases where struggling students were helped by charter schools. I have also heard of students with very intense needs being suspended or otherwise disciplined until they are forced out of charter schools. There is very little transparency or accountability to the public, and I would be very surprised to see any charter school provide equal support to vulnerable populations with the same percentages as public schools. While some individual cases of success in charters are encouraging, I would like to know how they justify the large repurposing of public funds away from public schools? It leaves the already underfunded public school system even less funded and less able to improve.

        I have spent many hours teaching and helping kids here in West Seattle public school, many of whom either come from vulnerable populations,  have special needs or both. I care very much about the students here and I can’t get on board with trading the success of the few for the sacrifices of the many.

    • Harold February 3, 2017 (11:48 am)

      Do some basic homework Mergirl, there is no tuition at Summit. Stop spreading alternative facts like you are the Sean Spicer of the West Seattle Blogsasphere.

      • mergirl February 3, 2017 (6:22 pm)

        Whats with with name calling?

        My post is not attempting to state any facts. I am offering a test to this and any other charter school in or outside of Washington. If the charter school is willing to accept students with intense special needs in the same percentages as public schools and give them accommodation to the the same level or better than public schools, without charging any fees (including hidden fees), I’ll reconsider my position. I am currently fundamentally opposed to charter schools for three main reasons 1) Siphoning public money. 2) Accountability 3) Terrible national track record on serving vulnerable student populations. 

        I have spent quite a bit of time inside classrooms in West Seattle teaching and helping kids, many of which are in vulnerable populations. I care very deeply about their successful futures. I don’t think they should be left behind because of lack of equality or because public funds are being redirected away from them.

    • Seattlite February 3, 2017 (4:08 pm)

      MERGIRL — “Overall, a whopping 40 percent of high school students entering public colleges across the country require at least one remedial class in reading, writing or math.

      This is the legacy of a teachers union-driven system in our major cities. And it is minorities who pay the highest price.”  Excerpt from article by Ben Shapiro

      “Looking For Superman” documentary has enlightened many to the shortcomings of the public school system and its union. 

  • Jim Clark February 3, 2017 (10:28 am)

    Choice is good!

  • AH Concerned Parent February 3, 2017 (10:41 am)

    Excellent level setting test of charter school merit, Mergirl!  So sad and frustrating that the very people who will be negatively impacted are those who voted for charter schools — and for Trump.

  • anonyme February 3, 2017 (10:56 am)

    I don’t know about Seattle, but most public school systems have alternative schools that fill the same niche as charters.  The main difference is that charters can filter tax dollars for private profit, with very little oversight by school boards.  With some of the other actions taking place (like tax-exempt churches being opened up for political action) the boundaries between church/state, and privatized/public are being eliminated.  Guess who pays the price?   And now we have so-called constitutionalists tearing up the constitution.  Charters are just the first step in completely privatizing education and forcing taxpayers to pay for private and religious education.  Summit, you ARE NOT WELCOME; I hope this insanity is stopped.

    • Mary February 3, 2017 (12:30 pm)

      I wish you could see the heart of those involved with Summit Atlas is simply to better educate kids and teach them to give back to their communities. Certainly tax dollars will go their way but wouldn’t you rather have your money spent doing positive things than wasted continuing to try the same old thing the same old way?

      Here’s to stepping out of our comfort zones and believing things can be different and be better!I read the principal’s speech and believe she is both committed and knowledgeable enough to make Summit Atlas a great place for kids to thrive! 

  • Marty February 3, 2017 (11:01 am)

    My experiences with charter schools have been nothing but positive. My granddaughter graduated from a charter school and all 39 members of her graduating class were accepted by a college or university. Give them a chance, you might be surprised.

  • Johnathan February 3, 2017 (11:12 am)

    Fantastic work Summit Team! Keep your eye on the children who’s lives you will impact immensely and don’t worry about the anonymous internet trolls that don’t understand your vision. I’m proud to see you taking the first steps to significant increase the lives of our children. Congratulations!!!!

  • Eric1 February 3, 2017 (11:45 am)

    Sure Summit takes a portion of the money for “profit” as you call it.  Seattle Public Schools takes nearly $50,000,000 for “administration”.  Sure the administrators serve a purpose, but so does the Summit corporation.  They hire, fire, acquire properties, set policy, etc…  Same as the SPS admin.  Nobody thinks the SPS admin does it for free, the administrators all “profit” from doing nothing in the actual classroom.  It is all a necessary evil in the process.  

    .

    Once you get over that “somebody” is making a profit without actually teaching and you consider that portion of the pie rotten an inedible, you can look at the edible part of the pie and see what looks better.  One pie is apple pie that is tasteless, never changes and baked 1000 at a time just like you remember school cafeteria food.  The other pie is mystery fruit that you have never tried before but it is home baked and could be better or it might not be.  It is likely that 95% of people will go for the stale apple pie that is nutritious and meets USDA requirements.  But for the other 5% that are tired of crappy apple pie that their kids never eat anyway may choose the mystery pie rather than be forced to eat stale apple pie.

    .

    The key is, at least with Summit you will be with other parents who care about their kids enough to apply (regardless of income or race). With SPS you are guaranteed to have kids who have parents that do not care about their children even enough to ask what kind of pie is being served.  If I could pick out the caring parents in ANY school and put them in a classroom, that classroom would kick some serious butt and that is the difference you will see.

    • Denny Parent February 3, 2017 (8:03 pm)

      Your view is a total “private school mentality!”  Some parents don’t have the knowledge or resources to navigate the public school system and make “choices.”  I can’t wait to see the racial demographics of the Charter School…my guess, predominantly white?  I bet a lot of parents who currently send their kids on a boat (Vashon) to get away from “those kids” (Denny) will predominantly be the make-up of the Charter School. 

    • AJP February 3, 2017 (8:53 pm)

      Your pie analogy is…interesting. Here’s an analogy for you: there’s a large building that houses a lot of people. It doesn’t have the budget to properly care for the people, or maintain the building. It’s crumbling, and the people need help. A business comes in and says, “Hey, I can do a much better job of housing these people, just give me the money you would spend on them and I’ll do something better out back.” Out back, they build a new, shiny building, very fancy. A handful of the people in the old building get moved over there. Maybe they do better there, maybe they don’t, that depends on a lot of things. But meanwhile, in the big crumbling building, there are now even fewer resources to take of the people in there, and people are still not getting what they need. 

      It’s not fair to say public schools aren’t doing a good job when they’ve been critically underfunded for a very long time. Fully fund the public schools, give them the resources to actually do what they need to do. Then think about charters as an additional option. 

  • Sally February 3, 2017 (11:52 am)

    So excited for Summit to take off and show the people what they are all about. Until you meet the staff and the excitement that is building with the parents and students you can’t truly understand the awesome opportunity that is coming to West Seattle. CONGRATS SUMMIT!!!!

  • Silvia February 3, 2017 (11:53 am)

    Estamos muy agradecidos por la oportunidad que la Cumbre está trayendo a nuestra comunidad. ¡Cumbre de Congrats!

  • Stephen February 3, 2017 (1:06 pm)

    Congratulations, Summit Team! Keep up the amazing work! It’s awesome what you guys are doing for these kids in West Seattle. 

  • teacher February 3, 2017 (1:21 pm)

    I have taught in both traditional public schools and in charter schools.  I currently teach at a Summit Public School. There are a lot of misconceptions surfacing in these comments. Every charter school I know, including Summit Public Schools serve all kids.  The charter school I worked at before Summit had one of the most robust Special Education programs in the nation. The mission of most charter schools is to ensure that every single one of our students graduates from college. To achieve this goal we have small class sizes on purpose. At Summit, we have just over 100 students per grade level, as opposed to the 500 students that were in a grade level when I worked in a traditional public high school. Teachers work tirelessly at our schools. As a Summit teacher, I start my days with my mentor group which is a small group of students who stay together for all four years that feels like family.  Every morning I run check ins which allows me to determine who might need additional support throughout the day while building a sense of team. Then, in my science classes we focus on a project which integrates content knowledge and skill. For example, my students are building model electric houses in our circuits unit. During this time, I work with students one on one and I pull small groups to help teach a skill. I differentiate my instruction to meet the needs of individual students and rarely teach whole group lessons. This is NOT to say that charter school teachers are better than traditional public school teachers; I have known so many excellent traditional public school teachers, it is to say; however, that teaching at Summit is not just hanging out while students are on computers, rather, as a teacher I am incredibly active, using data to drive instruction and meeting students where they are.

    I have had the opportunity to talk with Katie several times about her vision for the school. Katie speaks her vision with conviction. She believes in creating a school culture where students work their hardest all the time, where students experience genuine joy in learning, and where they focus on giving back to others.  Katie also has a proven track record of success both as a teacher and as a leader. I feel so confident that she will lead the school in a way that will make her students, parents, and community proud.

    Lastly, as someone who is deeply troubled by the outcome of the election it must be said that pro-school choice is not the same as being pro-Trump.  Betsy DeVos is unqualified to be our Secretary for the Department of Education. Many charter school teachers and leaders decided to make calls to their senators to try to persuade them to vote against DeVos’s confirmation.  

  • Hillary February 3, 2017 (1:26 pm)

    Great job everyone! The kids are so excited for the new opportunities that Summit offers!

    Proud Parent!!!

  • SummitParent of a student with an IEP February 3, 2017 (1:30 pm)

    I am all for informed opinions and debate.   I am a firm believer in public schools, in closing the achievement gap, and in a quality education for all students.  I mistakenly thought I was anti-charter for years for all the reasons you state above.  However, “charter schools” are not the same in every state.  Washington state was very intentional when they began allowing charter schools to open in our state.  Charters in Washington must be non-profit, non-religious, they must serve and admit all students fairly,  nondescriminately and must meet all of the same national standards.  They must be accountable and transparent, and their teachers have to be certified.  More than 2/3rds of the students currently in Washington Charter schools are low income and also 2/3rds are students of color.  12% of students at the charters qualify for special education (the statewide average is 13%).

    Non-profit charter schools that demand accountability and require certified teachers do NOT under-perform traditional public schools.  In fact, every charter school in Washington outperformed their traditional public school in the first year (and consider that the first year is transitional and often has undue hardships: including big law suits last year).  And so far, despite starting with many students 1-2 grade levels behind in math and reading, their students are meeting and exceeding state averages after just one year.

    And they are doing so by spending less per student than the average public school.

    Please see below- where you can fact check all info here.

     And please don’t confuse Betsy DeVos- who I have spent the entire week opposing with calls, letters, emails and petitions- with Washington Charter Schools.   And to call them Trump schools is downright offensive.  The students at Summit had a walk-out opposing Trump.   

    In Washington state, 30% of students do not graduate from high school- most of those students are of color, low income or have IEPs.  The charter schools in Washington are targeting these groups and actively recruiting these students to show that innovative models can meet the needs of these struggling students, and Summit has a 97% rate of graduating students qualifying for 4 year colleges. 

    Charters are closing the achievement gap and innovating.  How many of you know that Summit was named one of the 14 most innovative schools in the world??   How many know that Summit is working on an online learning platform that they have pledged to make available to all school and educators for free indefinitely.   

    Feel free to criticize charter schools, but please, do it in an informed way.  Find out what the Washington State Charter laws ARE- find out what the schools are doing- and THEN if you are still opposed, make your criticisms fact-based, not Alternate fact based.  See- the difference between Trump politics and charters in Washington is that when you go up against Trumpism- they say “shut up and listen” and we say, please come- see for yourself! Get informed. Ask questions.  Speak to parents and students of Washington charters.  I guarantee you will change your mind.

    http://wacharters.org/frequently-asked-questions/

    http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1365.html

    http://www.businessinsider.com/most-innovative-schools-in-the-world-2-2016-10?r=UK&IR=T%2F/#summit-sierra-in-seattle-washington-the-school-that-gets-personal-1

    https://edsource.org/2016/three-california-schools-awarded-10-million-each-in-national-contest/569350

    http://www.usnews.com/opinion/knowledge-bank/articles/2016-01-19/californias-summit-public-schools-are-the-schools-of-the-future

  • Olive February 3, 2017 (1:40 pm)

    Charter schools are a money suck with questionable motivations and guidelines. 

    Let’s invest the time and money in schools already doing the hard work.

    Public Schools forever!

    • Tyler Durden February 3, 2017 (4:17 pm)

      Brilliant Olive keep investing in stuff that is kind of working instead of looking at options. What’s that they call doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome. 

  • wakeflood February 3, 2017 (2:02 pm)

    I have many concerns about for profit education – witness the many egregious issues with colleges for your examples.  Not to mention the poor results in a number of states that have instituted them in volume – looking at you, DeVos in Michigan (see WaPo of Dec 8).  

    And I would enjoy knowing how the wall of Church and State is being maintained as well. 

    I am willing to let the experiment continue if they can be shown to be an improvement over their public counterparts for similar cost.  If not, then they are simply transferring our $ into corporation’s pockets.  Why is that different from going to public administrators?  Simply the fact that for profit corporations prime function is to return profit to shareholders.   Until that changes in a demonstrable fashion, then I will continue to be skeptical. 

  • Lisa February 3, 2017 (2:10 pm)

    I’m an ex teacher who left the profession because the public schools were awful, but the private companies they hired to come in and “fix things” were way worse for most kids. When they couldn’t fulfill their corporate promises to magically move all kids up 2 grade levels, they just left with a mess behind. Good for you….you have a great personal experience with charter schools. Do you even care about other kids? Don’t come crying to everyone when Summit doesn’t fulfill their magical promises and leaves you in the dust. Teachers also love teaching there for many understandable reasons, but if you need help from a union, good luck. With no boards to hold anyone accountable, let’s just hope you continue to have a good experience because why worry about the regular public school kids right? If YOU’RE happy, why not stick it to those OTHER kids?

  • anonyme February 3, 2017 (2:12 pm)

    If the charter model is so awesome, why not just incorporate it into the public school system, instead of destroying one to feed the other?

  • Lisa February 3, 2017 (2:16 pm)

     PS The last time I checked, Trump was against public schools and pro charter schools because he’s a businessman. Check YOUR facts. Hello….DeVos. Great to hear the kids are protesting Trump in general while their parents are sending them to a type of school heavily endorsed by his administration.  Contradiction?

    • Tyler Durden February 3, 2017 (4:23 pm)

      You have basically no facts Lisa. People that are pro Charter Schools aren’t necessary pro Trump but maybe they are. You are missing the point this is an opportunity to advance education and try something that has been working in several other areas. It’s 2 schools and in 2 to 4 years when you have some data then decide if it’s a model that works. By all means if it’s working the we would be ignorant not to employ the same tactics and ideas in public schools. Our education system isn’t ranked poorly on the international stage for no reason. So we either try new options or continue to decline.

  • zark00 February 3, 2017 (3:43 pm)

    Hey hey hey it’s Friday Fact Day!

    Let’s do some fact checking:

    The RAND article you cite is a study of 62 schools, both Charter and District, and is an assessment of how personalized learning is successful in the “majority” of cases.

    It is not, in any way, a comparison of public vs charter schools.

    It includes 6 district schools, and 56 charters, and they dropped the bottom performing 21 charters from the study.
    RAND clearly cautions “against generalizing this result because there are so few district schools represented.”  That’s a direct quote from the study.
    The report is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation which is all about charters.

    So that study is useless.

    The Business Insider article is a list if Charters that Business Insider thinks are innovative.
    I grabbed the one with a cool name, PTech in Brooklyn, googled it, and… uh oh – article number 1 is all about the major issues with PTech including:
    “In fall 2014, P-TECH told NPR, 21 percent of grades earned by its students in college courses were D’s and F’s.”
    Ouch.

    http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2016/03/14/469207779/turmoil-behind-the-scenes-at-a-nationally-lauded-high-school

    The WACharters article is, of course, from the Washington State Charter School association.

    It’s the same list of FAQ questions on the Washington State Charter law page – it’s nothing that proves anything about the efficacy of Charters.

    Interestingly it linked out to an article about how the Washington State Charter Association has had to backup Charters with first $2M in private funds, followed by $4.5M in private donations given to the schools as bridge grants, and has now committed to providing $1000 per student from private donations to independent charters like SOAR (but not to networks like Summit or Green Dot).  So even with the state funds, they need millions in donations to even hit the very modest successes they have reported.  I’m not against donations, just saying, you are not getting all the facts here.

    Let”s give $6.5M to three Seattle public schools and see how that goes.

    Oh yeah, in addition to that, Gates gave $4M to Summit and $4.2M to Green Dot –  that’s $8.2M to 4 schools – 2 Summit and 2 Green Dot.

    Oh, also, Summit just got $30M in California, for three schools.  $10M per school.  From Laurene Jobs, who by all accounts really has her heart int he right place, but, this is straight up cash money –  $$10M per school!! 

    Give West Seattle High $10M – see how they do with it.

    Overall this weak-sauce”proof” effectively proves the opposite – The facts are that Charters spend WAY more money, and get at best similar results, to any public school.

    Gotta love facts – they are our friends!

    As if they aren’t getting enough money – this is on the table now too:

    Current Proposal: (The Gates Foundation) Have
    requested a proposal from Summit for $8M for 4 Summit schools in WA, as
    well as access to a newly formed Gates Facilities Fund.


    • AJP February 3, 2017 (8:46 pm)

      Thanks Zark. I think you should repost your comment over on the other thread too, the one that included real estate investment and charter schools. It was extremely interesting. Fully fund public schools, give them the opportunity to excel, then re-evaluate charter schools as a supplement, not a replacement, for public education.

  • Kathy M February 3, 2017 (4:26 pm)

    Great job Summit

  • wakeflood February 3, 2017 (5:54 pm)

    Can someone tell me why Charter Schools have to be run by for profit corporations?  Why not non profit?  Are there any?  If not, why not?  If yes, why isn’ that the model being touted?  I suspect the answer is embedded in the question. 

    Do the administrators in these Charter School corporations have MBA’s or Teaching Certs?  If both, great.  If only one, that should tell you something.  (I’ve seen some wonderful salaries for some of these administrators  – $500K/yr. anyone? – so let’s not assume that a public school admin pulling down $170K+ is being greedy, as a standard assumption, especially on a per/student basis.) 

    It’s not that I’m against for profit entities. They have their place but just look around.  Good intentions in the classrooms aside, American companies are about profitability and growth of it.  Where in a child’s education is that supposed to rank?  Personally, it shouldn’t even be on the list but that’s just me.  And if you don’t think it ranks #1 with the majority stockholders, then you’re being naive. Oh, I’m sure they talk a good game, all altruistic and such, but they’d be stupid not to.  It’s what they’re selling.

    Just as money skews politics, it skews education.  Especially in our system.

    So, as I’ve said before, I’m open to the experiment, but if the results, when judged fairly, aren’t there, then let’s not kid ourselves that it’s about choice and the kids.  It’s about expediency and profit.  

    And I’m not cutting the public school system a ton of slack either – they haven’t gotten their act together for a long time.  The reasons are manifold – entrenched bureaucracy, unions that don’t have their priorities straight, parents that just plain don’t care about their kids, etc.  But it can work.  It works in places like Norway and other Scandinavian and Asian countries.   I’m just dubious of the for profit model in a big ol’ way. 

  • Lisa February 3, 2017 (7:37 pm)

     Did you hear yourself Tyler? Are you REALLY saying I’m wrong when I say that DeVos supports public education over charter schools?  You’ve got to be kidding!

  • Lisa February 3, 2017 (7:40 pm)

    * DeVos supports charter schools over public (correction)

  • Community Member February 3, 2017 (9:20 pm)

    Summit is a non-profit 501.

    I have mixed feelings about charters. I believe the 100-year-old factory school model can be improved, and alternative schools and choice schools are part of figuring out what works better.

    But I see ZERO reason why Summit’s teachers shouldn’t have the same Union representation as the public schools. Indeed, they probably need that protection more. 

    And it is highly irritating that Summit will align with California school calendar. What does that have to do with innovation?

    • SummitParent of a student with an IEP February 10, 2017 (10:26 am)

      Summit is aligned with the California schedule because the schools currently share resources and teacher training.  My best guess is that when and if there are more Summit schools in Washington, they can align with the Washington state calendar.  As a parent (and a student), it is a definite downside to have the kids start in the middle of August and end in early June.  Though Summit offers 2 weeks of free summer school for kids to catch up if they are behind, or get ahead on the next year- so they can end around the same time in June if they attend the summer school portion.

  • Concerned Educator February 3, 2017 (9:28 pm)

    Let’s do get some facts out there. The reality is many public schools aren’t doing a good job educating kids. Others are. If you go to communities that have high-achieving public schools, you won’t find any charter schools. Why? The public schools are doing the job educating kids from a wide spectrum of backgrounds and abilities, including kids with special needs as well as gifted students and every ability level in between. Charter schools have become a viable alternative to public education in cities/communities where public schools have failed to provide a good education for many reasons — poor use of public funds with top-heavy administrations, lazy and inept teachers (often protected by tenure laws), poor teaching techniques that are out-dated but used because there is little leadership to reform. The list of problems goes on and on. Good public schools, no need for charter schools. Poor public schools with poor leadership, poor teachers, poor test scores and academic achievement, charter schools begin to thrive – at least good charter schools. We need that alternative to get poor public schools to get their act together. Competition is good for education and it’s good for all of our kids. Sure, just like there are bad public schools, there are bad charter schools. But most states have stringent guidelines for charter schools that monitor their academic achievement, and if they don’t meet those standards over a period of time, they get closed. Too bad some of our poor performing public schools don’t suffer the same fate. If people have a problem with charter schools in Seattle, maybe they better take a hard look at how the SPS is performing. Demand more of our public school administrators, teachers, and students. If they can’t get the job done, why should we keep pouring public funds into a failed system? Charter schools offer new ideas and good competition. Misdirected about charter schools coming to the Seattle area should be focused on demanding public schools get better. Let’s hold them accountable instead of worrying about holding a charter school accountable before it even opens. We know the SPS is not getting it done in many schools in the area. Let’s at least give Summit Atlas the benefit of some time and money to prove they can give us schools that challenge kids to achieve at the level we should expect – but aren’t getting -from our public schools 

  • Community Member February 3, 2017 (9:44 pm)

    @Concerned and others, Summit comes to us from the elite of Silicon Valley. Somehow I think that “poor” public schools weren’t the driving force.

    • Concerned Educator February 3, 2017 (10:15 pm)

      It doesn’t matter where they come from. What matters is if they provide kids from across the community a better education than they are now getting. Let’s at least give them a chance to do that in light of the fact that the SPS isn’t getting it done in many of the schools are kids now attend. Keeping charter schools out of the Seattle area doesn’t do a thing to improve our current schools. The competition might just make SPS get its collective act together and start to make some changes… I’ve heard the new principal at Summit Atlas speak. If her actions are rooted in the belief that all kids are deserving of a great education, especially focusing on the underserved of our community, and she works with the same kind of enthusiasm and intensity she communicates, those kids are in for a tremendous opportunity. It’s not about some corporate group; it’s about the people who love and teach the kids every day and push them to excellence. Why can’t charter schools be allowed to do just that, especially in light of the fact, the SPS can’t seem to do it?

  • New Thinking Needed February 3, 2017 (10:05 pm)

    Readers who are anti-Public Charter Schools, please educate yourselves about WA state Public Charter Schools by reviewing these FAQ brought to you by The Washington State Board for  Education. 

    http://www.sbe.wa.gov/faq/charters.php#twentythree

  • Rachel S February 4, 2017 (4:04 am)

    Having respectful debate about public issues is healthy. But such debate requires participants to be well informed and open minded. Look at the parameters for Washington State charter schools and understand the issue. These are not for profit institutions. The only profit for these schools is to the community in which they serve.  They graduate adults who are prepared to take their place as productive members of their community. The students in these schools have highly qualified and dedicated education professionals who invest time, energy, tears, and love in their students. They want children to have the tools to be successful twenty first century citizens. As any parent knows one size doesn’t fit all for our own children. That is the case in schools as well. Charter schools face the same rigorous scrutiny traditional public schools do and this one has a proven track record.

    Why not keep an open mind and give this school a chance instead of responding with juvenille name-calling hiding behind anonymous screens? 

  • Community Member February 4, 2017 (8:19 am)

    Here is an amazingly timely article about Summit and the forces behind it:

    https://www.ft.com/content/d629e512-e805-11e6-967b-c88452263daf

    (Keep reading past the first few fluff paragraphs to get to Zuckerberg et al.)

    There are many interesting issues discussed in this thread:  Charter schools in general, profit vs non-profit, traditional vs alternative, local control or not, etc.   Much of that debate has little to do with Summit and the bold new technologies they are experimenting with. 

    Summit is experimenting; trying new things, seeing what works, making adjustments. Personalized learning is also currently available in alternative public schools such as Middle College HS, Nova, Cleveland, Center, and Interagency, as well as various distance learning opportunities and “Alternative Learning Experiences” available through other in-state public schools operating under very specific state laws.

    Much of what these schools (both public and charter) are trying is exciting. The 6-period “factory” school model of 1895 isn’t a good fit for many students. 

    My concerns focus on lack of oversight through OSPI, and the lack of Union representation, and lack of elected local oversight.  Because despite the best intentions, sometimes things will go wrong. When that happens in a regular public school, we have structures that provide whistler-blower protection, etc. The charters come with a strong, central, authoritarian arrangement, imposing good (or not) ideas from above.  If SEA & WEA covered Summit employees, and if there was a LOCAL school board, there would be options to address concerns.

  • Mark February 4, 2017 (6:03 pm)

    Give the Charter a fair opportunity to provide education to students that want to work an alternative.  

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