September 22, 2010: During the same week that Waiting for "Superman" premieres across the nation, a petition by Redwood City's Summit Public Schools to open a new high-quality charter school in San Jose's East Side Union High School District has been denied. Summit Prep is one of the five schools featured in "Superman;" it also was recently ranked by Newsweek magazine as among the top 100 schools in the nation.
The school district approved one application from Summit Public Schools to open a 400-student school, but it failed to approve a second identical application on a 2-2 vote. As the Mercury News writes in an editorial, the district was "apparently grasping at a questionable interpretation of state charter law... Outside of traditional criticisms of charter schools -- for instance, that they take resources away from other public schools, which is not a legal justification for rejecting one -- there was no good reason to say no to Summit."
Summit serves predominantly minority and low-income students. Note that since its inception in 2003, nearly 100 percent of its first four graduating classes were admitted to four-year colleges and universities - incredible given that in Silicon Valley, more than 60 percent of students do not graduate eligible to attend a four-year university. They have had an extensive waiting list every year since their first.
With Waiting for "Superman" coming out and education reform being among the hottest topics today, the irony of the East Side Union High School District's decision is obvious. "Summit's expected appeal to the county board of education seems likely to succeed, so the second school eventually will be opened," notes the Mercury News, but it is a shame it has to come to that.