Charter school proposals draw hundreds of parents to public meeting

January 17, 2014

Wednesday evening I attended a public forum in Renton to hear the proposals of three charter school applicants. More than 350 people showed up during the course of the evening, with standing-room-only the first hour.  Immigrant, low-income, middle-income and upper-income parents testified they hoped their children could attend one of the three proposed charter schools. 

The Washington State Charter School Commission is organizing forums like these around the state.  On January 30th the Commission will announce which of the 19 charter school proposals meet the law’s rigorous requirements.  Only 8 charter schools are allowed to open next fall.

The first presentation came from computer scientists employed at Microsoft and Amazon. They hope to open Coral Academy of Science Charter School, an established, successful charter school program seeking to provide a rigorous, integrated Science Technology Engineering and Math education to at-risk students in Kent. The school's reputation for excellence elicited these public comments:

A truck driver said he wanted his children to attend Coral Academy of Science charter school, so they can get an education and have a better life. 

Nazan Kurt, a computer scientist, said she would like her children to attend Coral Academy of Science.  

A college student, the son of immigrants, said the Coral Academy of Science charter school in Nevada prepared him for majoring in computer science at the University of Washington.  

The second school was presented by Adel Sefrioui and Brooke Valentine, education leaders from Kent. They hope to open Excel Public Charter School, a 6th through 12th grade school for disadvantaged students.  Excel Public Charter School would offer the equivalent of 80 additional days of learning through longer and more school days, double the time spent on reading and math, a mix of instructional methods to suit the children, and a culture of high expectations.

Many people from Kent spoke in enthusiastic support of Excel Public Charter School. Mychal Boiser, Executive Director of Kona Kai Coffee, who employs and trains high-school drop-outs, eloquently described the need of parents in Kent to have the choice of sending their children to Excel Public Charter School.         

The third proposal came from Cedar River Academy, a private school that wishes to become a charter school so more children can have access to its highly individualized successful program. Two mothers testified in tears that Cedar River Academy’s alternative program has offered their daughters a real chance at success in school.

More details about these proposals are available here. 

The hopes and dreams of parents filled the room Wednesday night, fueled by the men and women working hard to open Washington state’s first charter schools.

This report is part of WPC’s I-1240 Follow-Up Project.