The difference between parents’ expectations when enrolling their students into a Summit charter school and the reality of the educational experience, or lack thereof, is enormous.
This has been experienced by parents and teachers around the country and will be felt here as well with Summit opening a school in Southeast Seattle.
What parents aren’t aware of is that you don’t need a teaching credential or have experience teaching to be hired by Summit Sierra charter school as an Indeed ad posted by Summit describes. In the ad they also state, “Summit teachers do not see themselves as disseminators of knowledge”.
What exactly do these self-described “facilitators” do? The facilitators answer student’s questions as the students use software programs on various subjects during their three to four 1½ hour sessions each day on computers.
The promise is far different from the reality as reflected in this Facebook post by a parent in Boone County, Kentucky:
In an article published in the Kentucky Tribune titled Some parents don’t like the new ‘Summit Personalized Learning Platform,’ want to opt out:
…more than 30 parents showed up to a usually empty Site Based Decision Making (SBDM) meeting at Camp Ernst Middle School (CEMS) to express their concerns on Thursday, October 13. This was an impressive turn out given that the meeting was held at 3:30 p.m., a time when many parents are still at work.
The parents said they didn’t know how their children were chosen for this experimental teaching tool. They were told they couldn’t opt out. One parent said she asked Principal Stephanie Hagerty to remove her child from the program, but was told no. Hagerty allegedly told the parent, if she didn’t like it she could send her child to another school. More than one parent attending the meeting said they want back their parental choice, that changing schools or homeschooling isn’t an option.
… Some parents, present at the meeting, said they had tried to reach Principal Hagerty, but she didn’t return their phone calls. They claimed that when they showed up in the office she refused to see them.
Some parents started wanting to opt-out when they saw a controversial section on Islam that was only visible using their child’s log-in information. They say, they couldn’t see what their child was learning from the parent portal. The syllabus provided to parents didn’t match what was being taught to their children.
Many parents indicated concern over the amount of screen time contradicting the recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics. They recommend no more than two hours of screen time and said the following, “Studies have shown that excessive media use can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and obesity. In addition, the Internet and cell phones can provide platforms for illicit and risky behaviors.
… Others said their children were finishing too quickly stating some children had completed the curriculum in eight weeks. Some parents said their children were just skipping to the assessments without reading the material. They only had to get eight out of the ten multiple choice questions correct to pass.
Data collection intrusive?
According to Superintendent Poe, the assessments, as well as KPREP, MAPS, and STAR assessments on each student, will be shared with Summit Learning and SCALE in order to evaluate the programs impact. The written agreement with Summit Public Schools Personalized Learning Services indicates sharing with other third party providers including Facebook and Google. The agreement gives Summit Learning permission to collect data from any devices used to access the program, which means parents accessing the program from home or work devices may be susceptible to data collection too. Some parents are upset with their students’ data, and potential their own data, being shared outside of the district.
Despite being asked not to talk about the program, some teachers have described it as a “disaster” saying that it is impossible to have so many students at various stages of progress. Teachers are required to provide 10 minutes of mentoring each week per student. However, many teachers have been unable to meet this goal. Some students are going several weeks before teachers are able to talk with them about their progress. One report indicated that during a summer training some teachers walked out in frustration.
The curriculum was designed by Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE). The curriculum is aligned to the California standards, not Kentucky. Kentucky hasn’t adopted new social studies standards. Yet parents were told by Principal Brewer at Conner Middle School that the curriculum was being implemented to comply with Common Core Standards. If that is the case, then they don’t comply with the standards currently in place in Kentucky. Some have argued the California standards are below what Kentucky has required in the past. Parents are upset by the choice of a curriculum that lowers standards for struggling schools.
… An attorney from the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), Carly Gammill, who is representing some of the parents, says the curriculum is unconstitutional, because it crosses the line between information and indoctrination. She has given the district until Tuesday, October 18 to remedy the curriculum and their social media policy.
For more on what’s happening in Kentucky, see What the NEA probably wouldn’t want you to know about “personalized” learning in Boone County, KY.
For more on Summit charter schools, see: