Dear Rep. Santos: 'Why don't you care about my school?'

Dear Rep. Santos,

My name is Olivia Zilavy, I'm a ninth grader at Summit Sierra Public Charter School in the ID, I am one of your constituents, and I am angry.

I’m angry at the situation that the Supreme Court has put me and my family in. I am angry that we have to fight for our right to receive a good education. I am angry that a public school with an amazing track record is being questioned. I am angry that my representative isn’t supportive of something that my family and I believe in so strongly.

I understand that I am only one of the many students that you represent, but let’s just say I’m liking Rep. Pettigrew a whole lot more that I’m liking you right now. I understand that you are adamantly against charter schools, and have been since 2012. I am writing to try and sway your stance on this issue.

Your website talks about how much you care about quality public education, and how much you care about closing the achievement gap. I’m sitting here wondering, if you really care about these issues, why don’t you care about my school?

Despite the fact that nearly half of the freshman class started the school year an average of 3.5 years below grade level in both reading and math, my school, Summit Sierra, outperformed the national average in reading by 40 percent, and more than doubled the national average in math. Washington State has never closed down a low-performing public school, so why are you trying to shut down a school that has made such amazing progress toward closing the achievement gap?

Your website says, and I quote, that, “Washington state must strive for providing education excellence and opportunities for all students to learn.”

My school does that.

If traditional schools aren’t working for students, why shouldn’t they be allowed an excellent, free alternative? When a school has a 96 percent acceptance rate into four-year colleges, in comparison to the statewide high school graduation rate of 77.2 percent, why should it be called into question at all?

My school is effective in teaching its students, has high-performing test scores, and is successful in graduating 100 percent of its students. So why are you trying to take away such an amazing institution, opportunity, and community?

My school offers “level playing fields that allow those who work hard to succeed” (another quote from your website), and provides support for those that need it. If you truly care about the aspects of education that you claim you do, then I’m struggling to understand why you refuse to support a public school that succeeds in addressing all of your concerns about K-12 education in Washington.

I hope this gave you something to think about.


Olivia Zilavy,
Founding class of Summit Sierra Public Charter School