Washington State Charter School Commission Authorizes Opening in Fall 2022
Last Thursday, the Washington State Charter School Commission unanimously authorized Rooted School to open a charter public high school in Vancouver, WA in fall 2022.
This will be the third school in the Rooted School network, and the first in Washington state. For the last 18 months, Rooted School has pursued its goal of expanding to Washington in partnership with WA Charters, through the organization’s School Leadership Design Fellowship (SLDF).
Behind Rooted School, founder and CEO Jonathan Johnson’s vision is a deep belief that “our communities can do more to help young people on the lower rungs of the economic ladder rise up in their lifetimes. We are beyond excited to open a school that will offer opportunities that do not exist anywhere else.”
The mission of Rooted School is for students to graduate high school with a diploma in one hand, and a job offer in the other. In New Orleans, the Rooted School team built a first-of-its-kind school that has been recognized as one of the 143 most innovative schools in the U.S. by Transcend Education and the Christensen Institute.
Rooted School NOLA projects an 89% graduation rate for its first graduating class—12 percentage points higher than New Orleans’ highest average since Hurricane Katrina. Eight out of ten seniors have earned at least one Industry Based Credential in the technology sector and they are projecting that nearly one-third of their seniors will earn living-wage, entry-level jobs in the technology sector directly from high school. Additionally, in August 2020, Rooted School opened a second school in Indianapolis, the earliest out-of-state school replication in public charter school history.
In partnership with a board of directors comprised of local business, technology and education leaders, Rooted School has done deep work in Washington to understand the need and opportunity and is excited to offer the innovative model to Vancouver students. Before applying to open a school in Washington, Rooted engaged over 100 Vancouver and Portland stakeholders including students, local educators, politicians, faith-based organizations, and community-based organization leaders to learn about their desires for a new high school. Citizens across Clark County consistently affirmed the need for a model that ensures all children have a fair chance at financial freedom while addressing growing local workforce needs in STEM fields.
Johnson notes, “Southwest Washington projects 1,693 annual openings in IT, healthcare, and manufacturing over the next five years. However, there is a shortage of homegrown talent to meet this workforce need.”
“Meanwhile,” says Johnson, “there is a vast gap between the educational and career opportunities provided to white students compared to students of color and with disabilities towards meeting the growing workforce need. This has been long-standing with little movement in a positive direction.”
WA Charters CEO Patrick D’Amelio remarked on Rooted’s authorization, saying, “We are thrilled for the Vancouver community and students and families in Clark County who will benefit from the revolutionary program that Rooted School will offer. This type of innovative educational option is part of the solution to ensuring that all students have a fair chance at college success and financial freedom.”
The Rooted School model will open in fall 2022 to serve 35 ninth grade students and will grow each year by one grade level until it reaches full capacity as a 9-12 high school, serving 125 students in 2025. The school will provide one adult for every nine students, and restorative practices will be used to build relationships within the community.
Like all charter schools, Rooted School Vancouver will be public, non-selective, and open to all students.
To learn more about Rooted School and its mission, visit www.rootedschool.org. You can also follow Rooted School Vancouver on Facebook.