For Immediate Release | June 29, 2017
Impact Public Schools to Launch Tukwila’s First Charter Public School
The Washington State Charter School Commission authorizes a new, high-quality K-5 public school option for Tukwila families in 2018
SEATTLE, Wash. – Today, the Washington State Charter School Commission (the Commission) announced the authorization of a new charter public elementary school in Tukwila – the first to be launched by Washington’s newest charter public school network, Impact Public Schools (IPS).
IPS is a homegrown Washington charter public school network with a mission to prepare diverse student populations to succeed in college and to impact communities by providing innovative, rigorous, and culturally responsive education options for our state’s next generation of equity-driven, innovative leaders.
IPS has already received tremendous support from families and other members of the Tukwila community. Earlier this month, more than 100 parents and supporters from the region showed up to express great need for new, high-quality public school options in the area.
“We are very pleased that the Commission has approved a public school model led by talented leaders who are equipped with the expertise to implement a successful program in partnership with the Tukwila community,” said WA Charters CEO Patrick D’Amelio. “Here in Washington, we are working to do everything we can to increase opportunity for students and families by ensuring that they have public school options that deliver results. We look forward to partnering with Impact Public Schools as we support the continued growth of a high-quality charter public school sector.”
As the first IPS school to launch, the Tukwila charter elementary will serve more than 500 students in grades K-5 at full capacity. Students will not only receive rigorous instruction in core content areas, but will also cultivate deeper learning skills and leadership habits from a young age. The model has a deep focus on social-emotional learning; beginning in kindergarten, students are immersed in rich curriculum and conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion.
After the successful launch of its first school, IPS plans to open additional charter public schools in other high-needs regions across Washington state.
IPS has received strong support from the philanthropic community. In May, IPS was one of two Washington charter public school groups selected as members of the 2017 NewSchools Invent cohort at NewSchools Venture Fund (NSVF).
IPS is co-founded by Jen Davis Wickens and Natalie Hester, two leaders local to Washington who share a powerful history in community-based work in the South Puget Sound region, including building the Summit Public Schools network in Washington state. Prior to co-founding IPS, Wickens served as the Chief Regional Officer for Summit Public Schools in Washington and Natalie was a founding parent and advocate of Summit Sierra. They have teamed up to build more high-quality public school options for families across the state due to the consistent community demand they have seen.
“We know the ‘factory model’ of education is not working for the vast majority of students in America, particularly in communities for whom the opportunity gap continues to grow,” said Wickens. “There has never been a more important time than now to boldly reimagine what’s possible for all students – especially those whose voices are currently marginalized – and to create our next generation of diverse leaders prepared to transform the 21st century.”
Now that it has been authorized, IPS will focus its efforts on engaging families in the area, and enrolling a diverse student body that reflects the Tukwila district, one the most racially and economically diverse school districts in the state of Washington.
About Washington’s Charter Public Schools
Charter schools are a type of public school, approved and overseen by a state or district authorizer. Like all public schools, they do not charge tuition, they are open to all students, and they are publicly funded. However, charter public schools are held more accountable for showing improved student achievement. In exchange for greater accountability, teachers and principals are given more flexibility to customize their teaching methods and curriculum to improve student learning.
In 2016-17, more than 1,600 students attended eight charter public schools in Washingotn. In 2017-18, ten charter public schools will be operating and serving more than 2,500 students across the state. In 2018, the sector will grow even more, with the opening of Willow Public School in Walla Walla and Impact Public Schools’ elementary charter public school in Tukwila.
Washington’s charter public schools are helping to close the education equity gap. A majority of charter public school students in Washington are students of color, as compared to 43 percent statewide, and a majority of charter public school students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, as compared to 45 percent statewide. Reflecting the diversity of the students they serve, 39 percent of our schools’ founding teachers identified as people of color, whereas the the statewide average for nonwhite teachers is 13 percent.
In some communities, traditional public schools are meeting the needs of local students. But in other communities – particularly communities of color that struggle with poverty – they are not. According to 2015-16 academic results, students at Washington’s charter public schools are making impressive gains in reading and math.