Did you know Facebook and Summit Charter Schools Have Teamed Up to Deliver Personalized Learning?

Facebook Napalm Girl

It was a lucky shot, some say of Nick Ut’s famous Vietnam War photo The Terror of War, or Napalm Girl, as it is more commonly known. Less lucky, of course, was the little girl in the photo, Kim Phuc. She was running down the street, naked, after a napalm attack on her village. Her skin was melting off in strips. Her home was burning in the background. It was June 8, 1972. Ut was 21 years old. “When I pressed the button, I knew,” Ut says. “This picture will stop the war.” It has been 42 years since then. But that moment still consumes him.

In 1972, three years after the Tet Offensive, the Vietnam War had put President Nixon in a very tough spot during an election year.

For the first half of 1972, President Nixon made public overtures towards a formal peace agreement with North Vietnam.

After winning his re-election bid and the peace negotiations unravelling, President Nixon decided to change tactics.

During a meting with Henry Kissinger and Presidential military aide General Alexander Haig, the decision was made to bring in B-52 Bombers to escalate and up the intensity of the bombing campaign in North Vietnam.

As Alexander Haig put it, the goal of the bombing campaign was to “strike hard…and keep on striking until the enemy’s will was broken.”

Napalm Girl

On June 8, 1972, Associated Press photographer, Nick Ut, took a picture of a 9 year old girl running down the road after her village had been bombed with napalm. Her clothes had disintegrated, her skin scorched by the 2,200 degree burn of napalm.

Ut took the little girl to the hospital and demanded she be treated, despite being told by doctors that she had no chance.

Miraculously, Kim Phuc survived.

Many believe Ut’s photograph of Phuc helped end the Vietnam War.

It was a lucky shot, some say of Nick Ut’s famous Vietnam War photo The Terror of War, or Napalm Girl, as it is more commonly known. Less lucky, of course, was the little girl in the photo, Kim Phuc. She was running down the street, naked, after a napalm attack on her village. Her skin was melting off in strips. Her home was burning in the background. It was June 8, 1972. Ut was 21 years old. “When I pressed the button, I knew,” Ut says. “This picture will stop the war.” It has been 42 years since then. But that moment still consumes him.

Nick Ut’s photograph won the Pulitzer Prize. Kim Phuc and Ut forged a friendship that’s lasted for 45 years.

Facebook’s Censorship of Napalm Girl

In 2016, Norwegian author and journalist Tom Egeland posted on Facebook eight photos, one being Napalm Girl, as examples of how photography can change the world.

Facebook deleted Napalm Girl citing nudity concerns.

The Norwegian newspaper Dagsavisen contacted Kim Phuc for a comment on the censorship of the iconic photo. This is what she had to say:

“Kim is saddened by those who would focus on the nudity in the historic picture rather than the powerful message it conveys,” Anne Bayin, a spokesperson for the Kim Phuc Foundation, told the newspaper in a statement.

“She fully supports the documentary image taken by Nick Ut as a moment of truth that captures the horror of war and its effects on innocent victims,” she added.

When Tom Egeland posted a link to the Dagsavisen article, Facebook deleted it and suspended Egleland for 24 hours.

The controversy quickly spun out of control. How absurd was Facebook’s commitment to censorship and being the final arbitrator of what their users can see?

The Prime Minister of Norway, Erna Solberg, posted Naplam Girl to her account. Facebook deleted it. Solberg promptly encouraged her cabinet members to post the photo on their Facebook feeds. Half of them did.

In the end, Facebook finally backed down – not because they saw the error in their authoritarian censorship.

No way.

Rather, Facebook finally woke up from it’s my-way-or-the-highway brinkmanship to find itself engulfed in a firestorm of controversy which had reached such a fenzy the company faced a mini-insurrection of users and lots of bad press.

By Friday the internet saw a mini-insurrection, with defiant Facebook users sharing the photo in a protest against apparent ham-fisted censorship. Some 180,000 people used Facebook to view the Guardian’s account of the row – illustrated, paradoxically, with the same uncensored photo. Another 4,000 shared it on Facebook.

Facebook and Summit Charter Schools Team Up to Deliver Personalized Learning

Given Facebook’s perchance for censorship coupled with the company’s ability to control the content users see with proprietary algorithms, I’m shocked any parent would allow or want their kids to be taught online by a black-box, digital curriculum developed by Facebook.

But it’s happening, with the help of gushing, non-critical reporting like this piece from the New York Times:

But the Summit-Facebook system, called the “Summit Personalized Learning Platform,” is different.

The software gives students a full view of their academic responsibilities for the year in each class and breaks them down into customizable lesson modules they can tackle at their own pace. A student working on a science assignment, for example, may choose to create a project using video, text or audio files. Students may also work asynchronously, tackling different sections of the year’s work at the same time.

The system inverts the traditional teacher-led classroom hierarchy, requiring schools to provide intensive one-on-one mentoring and coaching to help each student adapt.

And this:

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, were the catalysts for the partnership. It is the couple’s most public education effort since 2010 when they provided $100 million to help overhaul public schools in Newark, a top-down effort that ran into a local opposition.

The Facebook-Summit partnership, by contrast, is more of a ground-up effort to create a national demand for student-driven learning in schools. Facebook announced its support for the system last September; the company declined to comment on how much it is spending on it. Early this month, Summit and Facebook opened the platform up to individual teachers who have not participated in Summit’s extensive on-site training program.

Summit is doing it’s part by offering a teacher residency program which focuses on training a new type of teacher: one who’s content to be the-guide-on-the-side while the Basecamp software does most of the actual teaching.

A network of charter schools in Northern California this month will launch the nation’s first teacher residency program focused on personalized learning.

Twenty-four teachers-in-training will be part of Summit Public Schools’ first Summit Learning Residency Program, which will train teachers to lead students in a personalized learning classroom setting, a hallmark of the Summit model.

And to cement their knowledge of the budding concept that tailors education to the individual, the residents themselves will also learn their coursework and receive their teaching credential through personalized learning.

Teachers if you don’t think the teaching profession is being downsized, this is your wake-up call.

The Inherit Racism of Summit Charter Schools

A few years back, this blog called out Summit’s racist practices. Summit’s recent team-up with Facebook doesn’t help to change our impression.

Censoring Napalm Girl is a deal breaker.

Racism is alway part of the mix and an unspoken justification for the United State’s expansion of empire – from Manifest Destiny to Vietnam. Times may change, but this old habit refuses to die.

Napalm Girl is part of our country’s unflattering past and if censored or left unacknowledged will continue to be repeated.

-Carolyn Leith


10 thoughts on “Did you know Facebook and Summit Charter Schools Have Teamed Up to Deliver Personalized Learning?

  1. I appreciated the info about Summit and Facebook, but was confused that this began with the story of Napalm Girl. Facebook censorship is a separate issue, however riveting her story is.

    1. The PL that Summit offers is censored in the sense that one or two people determine what a student should learn and in what way it should be presented without any input from the student, parent or local education community.

      The lessons and tests are pre-packaged and given by people who have no training in the art of teaching or are certified.

      This is censorship on another level, only allowing children to learn what one or two individuals consider important.

  2. *** UPDATE *** : on the Summit Tahoma molestation and cover-up story

    Apparently, the victim and her parents are currently suing Summit Tahoma Principal (Executive Director) Nicholas Kim and the Summit Charter Schools national organization for covering up teacher Zachary Drew’s molestation of a victim with the initials “N.V.”

    I just found this:

    (I presume that “N..V.” are the initials of Drew’s victims in the case titled

    “N.V. vs. Summit Public Schools et al”)


    Summit hired lawyer high-powered Huntington Beach lawyer Gregory Wille to defend the Summit organization:


    Meanwhile, the parents of victim with the initials “N.V” has hired high-powered San Jose personal injury lawyer B. Robert Allard to sue Summit


    Allard is no slouch in winning in court and getting large settlements in such cases, as the following story indicates. Allard won a $2.75 settlement against a different school for different incident of teacher molestation Is this what awaits Summit? The case (BELOW) has the same exact elements as the Summit case, including school administrators failing to report, and covering up the incident, and thus allowing the molestation to continue.


    x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x x
    “Attorney B. Robert Allard Finalizes Settlement in School Molestation Case

    Posted on April 03, 2017

    “When you send your child to school every day, you do so with the expectation that your child’s school, teachers, and administration will do everything possible to keep him or her safe. Accidents, however, do happen, and your child may come home with a bruise or a scraped knee.

    “But what if your child came to you and said that he or she was being sexually abused by a teacher? Assuming the allegations are proven to be true, could the school bear any responsibility for allowing such abuse to occur? A tragic case from the San Jose region recently posed that exact question.

    “Patterns of Sexual Abuse

    “In the fall of 2015, a Bay Area teacher was sentenced to 40 years in prison after pleading no contest to charges that he molested four fifth-grade girls, including three at Paradise Valley Elementary School in Morgan Hill between 2012 and 2014. The fourth victim was a student at a school where the teacher worked in 2005. According to reports, the teacher isolated his victims, locking them inside a classroom with paper-covered windows during recess and lunch periods.

    “Potential School Liability

    “While the teacher must now face the criminal consequences of his actions, the case raised critical concerns about the policies and behavior of school administrators. Attorney B. Robert Allard, a partner at Corsiglia McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. and lead counsel for the victims and their families, said that parents repeatedly reported the teacher’s behavior to three different principals in the Morgan Hill Unified School District between 2009 and 2013, but the complaints never went any further. Allard indicated that the police were not notified and no records of the reports were forwarded to the school district.

    “Multi-million Dollar Settlement

    “As a result of the failures by the school and the district, Allard helped the families file a lawsuit against the district for failing to protect the children under its care.

    “Last month, the two sides reached a settlement agreement in the district will pay each of the three victims $2.75 million. The fourth victim could not seek civil damages due to the California statute of limitations. In addition, the school district will be required to implement staff training to identify sexual predators and a sexual abuse prevention program for students.

    “Reading Between the Lines

    “The settlement agreement contains the expected provision stating that the payments are not a formal admission of any liability. According to Allard, however, the amount of the payments makes a strong statement nonetheless. He said the sums to be paid would not have been on the table unless the district knew that evidence would show a clear failure to protect the young victims.

    “ ‘The money speaks for itself in that regard,’ Allard said.

    “A Better Road Ahead

    “At present, teachers in districts throughout the state are required to undergo mandatory reporter training, but Mr. Allard believes that it is not enough. Educators may have an obligation to report suspected abuse, but ‘the hole in that is they’re not trained to know what to look for as part of that suspicion,’ Allard said. He maintains that predator identification training is a vital part of preventing sexual abuse, and he is currently working with lawmakers to implement more comprehensive training programs statewide.

    “Call Us for Help Today

    “If you or your child has been the victim of sexual abuse by a teacher, babysitter, or any other authority figure, criminal justice is not always enough. Contact Mr. Allard and his team of compassionate San Jose personal injury attorneys to learn about your options for seeking civil damages. Call 408-289-1417 for a free, confidential consultation today.”

      1. Zachary Drew was engaging in a very different kind of … “personalized learning” … if you know what I mean.

        I spoke with an attorney friend about his, and he shared his opinions.

        The story broke in February 2016, but the lawsuit wasn’t filed until November 2016.

        Therefore, it’s almost certain that the victim’s family and Summit Charter Schools, Inc. both lawyered up and attempted a settlement of some kind during that time period of February-thru-November 2016.

        Indeed, it’s in Summit’s interest to put this baby to bed and settle this, to avoid any further publicity, and prevent more public details of this whole thing from leaking out in lawsuit filings, depositions, and trial testimony, which in California would be videotaped and available to the media and to the public (a la the Vergara hearings.), and posted on the internet.

        Furthermore, anything that the idiot Principal (Executive Director) Nicholas Kim said under oath could open him up to criminal charges in the molestation case, and to perjury charges, should he perjure himself. The same goes for any and all of the Summit officials who told Kim to cover the whole thing up.

        Well, apparently, the two parties could not arrive at a mutually agreeable dollar amount to effect such a settlement, so Summit is preparing to go for a full scorched earth strategy, and engage in a no-holds-barred legal battle.

        Perhaps Summit final offer was $100,000, but the victim’s parents wanted a minumum of $1,000,000 and neither side would budge.

        By the way, this is all guess work. Summit may have offered $ 00.00, and the victim’s parents may have asked for $10 million. Who knows? What we DO know is that both sides could not reach a settlement, and are now prepared to take this all the way to trial.

        Since they haven’t settled by now, my friend insists, this could get particularly ugly,

        For example, Summit’s legal team could claim the underaged victim was some kind of deliberately seductive Lolita, a brazen nymphette who mesmerized and hypnotized the teacher into participating in the affair. They could dig up other students to testify to her sexual history in a sort of “She was already a slut, anyway, so she didn’t suffer THAT much” strategy to get a jury to not find anyone at Summit liable, or if they did find Summit liable, lessen the dollar amount of the award.

        Summit also has the D.A. on their side, who incredibly declined to prosecute Principal Nicholas Kim for not following his mandatory reporting legal requirements. I’m still gobsmacked by that one.

        Summit likely has already spend a mid-six-figure amount so far in legal fees. Should this go all the way to trial, Summit’s lawyers will rack up a good $1-2 million in bill-able hours … at least. They obviously think — or their money-motivated lawyers are influencing them to think — that they can win at trial, or that going to trial will be the least expensive course of action.

        On the other hand, B. Robert Allan got $2.75 million for his client for a case involving “fondling”. What do you think he can get — or he and the Summit victim’s parents think THEY can get — for full-on sexual intercourse and oral sex the victim suffered over a period of several months?

        One more thing: where the-hell is media in all this? When this broke, the story was huge — in newspapers, TV, the internet — and suddenly … NOTHING … like the turning off of a blowtorch. If this case involved a teacher perpetrator and administrators covering up things AT A TRADITIONAL PUBLIC SCHOOL, I’m guessing we’d know by now the disposition of Zachary Drew’s criminal case

        (Did Drew cop a plea? If so, what crime did he plead guilty to, and what was his sentence?)

        There would also be coverage of the upcoming civil trial, while there’s none in the case when a charter school is involved. This absence of coverage in the media emboldens Summit not to settle, as they’ve got nothing to lose in terms of bad publicity.

        Why HAS the media stopped covering this? Who is making that call?

  3. Another hallmark of Summit Charter Schools is their principals covering up their teachers molesting their students, as happened at Summit Tahoma in San Jose.

    It’s quite a yarn.


    (NOTE: In what follows BELOW, I’m supplementing the above article with details I picked up at the July 2016 NEA-RA teacher convention in Washington, D.C., while talking to delegates from northern California.)

    Summit Tahoma’s charter’s principal and the teacher-pervert were both friends in their mid-to-late-20’s, so when the principal found out about his friend boinking a student — including the name of the victim — the principal allegedly covered it up, telling both the victim and the pervert to just clam up forever, and it will all go away.

    He defended himself later by claiming that he’d conducted his own investigation and concluded his friend was innocent.

    Uh huh.

    There’s just one problem with that. He totally violated California’s laws on mandatory reporting. Any school employee, once he has been made aware of evidence, has no such discretion to investigate on his own, and then keep mum about it. Imprisonment and hefty fines awaits violators.

    The story gets wilder. Rumors found their way to parents, who then demanded the police get involved, which they did.

    When the principal was out of the building, another administrator allowed the police to interview the victim in an office. The principal returned to find that the interview was underway. He then barged into the room and demanded that the police stop the interview and leave.

    The police ordered him to leave the room.

    The principal then called the national office of Summit Charter Schools, who told him what to do. The principal, Nicholas Kim, barged in again, and said that a lawyer at the national charter office just told him that he had the legal right to throw the police out of the school, so scram!

    In an angry tone Kim then allegedly ordered the victim, “Don’t say another word.”

    The police said that if Kim did not leave the room immediately, they would cuff him and arrest him for interfering with an investigation.

    The victim then clammed up.

    Whew! That was a close one.

    Ehh .. not so fast.

    The police later re-interviewed the victim at her home, and with her parents encouragement, blabbed the whole story, whereupon all hell broke loose in the community over the whole debacle, in particular, the principal’s covering up pedophilia at the behest of his national charter school office.

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