Nearly 500 charter school parents and other supporters from all corners of Michigan came to Lansing on Thursday, Dec. 3, to deliver a message to lawmakers: Charter schools make a difference. They came to the Capitol for Charter School Advocacy Day, which was organized by the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA), the state charter school association.
“The problem is that they aren’t looking at our children as the future; they’re looking at our children as dollars and cents,” said Roosevelt Bell of Detroit, a parent from the Detroit Service Learning Academy who attended the event. “I don’t want my child to be a line item in the budget. The people in Lansing needed to hear from parents. These decisions they’re making aren’t affecting them. They’re affecting us. And for anyone to tell me I don’t have a choice of where I send my daughter to school, I’m not going to stand for that. That’s why I came to Lansing.”
Other parents echoed that sentiment.
“As a charter school parent, I appreciated the opportunity to have my voice heard,” said Susie Lang of Howell, a parent of three charter school students who came to Lansing for the day. “It was great seeing hundreds of other charter school parents in Lansing sharing the same message – that charter schools are making a difference in our child’s life. We definitely made our voices heard. As parents, we need to have a choice in selecting the right school for our child, and that’s the message we delivered.”
Charter school parents and other supporters came by the busload and carload from all parts of Michigan, including Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Grand Rapids, Benton Harbor, Ann Arbor, Pontiac, Port Huron and Northern Michigan – even the Upper Peninsula.
“It was an overwhelming display of support by charter school parents,” said MAPSA President Dan Quisenberry. “We were blown away by how many parents took the day off to come to Lansing to tell their stories. These are parents who have seen the difference a charter school has made in their child’s life, and they’re desperate to protect the right they had to choose that school. Results matter, and these parents have seen the results in their own children.”
The day included meetings with legislators, visits to the House and Senate galleries and a performance in the Capitol rotunda by two charter school groups – the choirs from Cornerstone Health and Technology High School in Detroit and Light of the World Academy in Pinckney.
The parents received support from many of the legislators they met with, including Rep. Tim Kelly (R-Saginaw Township), who spoke to a couple hundred attendees over lunch.
“While charter schools are often maligned by some in politics and some in the media, I want you to know that you’ve got a large number of supporters here in the Michigan Legislature, both in the House and Senate, who are going to do whatever they can to protect your choices as parents,” Kelly said. “Your system works. We’re going to do everything we can to protect that.”