04 Nov

Don’t take away my choice: why we want to be a founding family of Summit Atlas Middle School

By Kaleen Mahoney
West Seattle resident and mom to a 1st grader and 5th graderK photo

I will admit that I didn’t pay much attention to the statewide debate about public charters a few years ago. As a busy mom with two kids, you tend to pay attention when something directly impacts you.

I had no idea how much I would end up caring about the ability to choose a public charter school for my kids until now.

Last month I had the opportunity to tour Summit Sierra high school in the International District. I have never seen a school like this before – it was a breath of fresh air. The bright colors, the open spaces, the collaboration I saw. I felt like I wanted to sit down and start learning. Everyone looked so comfortable and engaged in learning, more like a small college atmosphere.

I want this opportunity for my kids.

And until September, I thought our family would have this option. The Washington State Charter Commission already approved Summit Public Schools to open a new middle and high school in West Seattle – Summit Atlas – starting in 2016. But now with the Supreme Court’s ruling of charter schools unconstitutional, I am left having to fight for the choice of being able to send my kids to a public charter school.

Our ability to attend a public charter school is everything right now. My family needs this choice. I want to support public schools and stay in my community. Summit Atlas will give us that choice.

I want my daughter to experience the one-on-one mentorship that Summit offers. I want to know if she is meeting her goals, and with Summit, I can go online any time to see how my child is doing. I don’t have to wait for a parent-teacher conference to get an update. I want her to learn how to work together with her peers to problem solve. She deserves to have a choice in where she goes to school, and I hope our elected leaders in the state take action to make sure she – and the thousands of other students who seek this option – will have this important choice in their education.

Public charter schools aren’t for everyone. But I know they are a fit for our family. I keep telling other people that they don’t have to agree with charters – that’s fine. Keep your child where they are.  But don’t take away the choice for other families.

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