CharterFolk Short: A Wax Museum in Michigan – Students Bring New Imagination to Advocacy

Good day, CharterFolk.

Michigan’s charter school movement is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

Governor John Engler signed the bill in January of 1994, making Michigan the 8th state to pass a charter school law.

Since that time, Michigan’s charter schools have grown to serve 150,000 students.

CREDO’s recent national report identified Michigan’s charter schools to be among the strongest in the country …

… helping students achieve an additional 36 days of learning in reading and 24 in math relative to their counterparts in district schools.

For decades, this success story helped Michigan’s charter schools build strong political support, but recent elections have emboldened opponents to surface proposals that would do great damage to the movement.

It’s a situation requiring new thinking about our approach to advocacy.

New imagination.

New ways to build relationships with legislators one by one.

Enter charter school students …

… who made a “wax museum” last week, bringing legislators to life on the steps of the Michigan state capitol.

It led legislators like Speaker Joe Tate to come out to meet the students who were portraying them.

Others ushered the students depicting them into their offices for further conversation …

… and commendation.

Obviously, we have much further to go to protect Michigan’s charter schools from policy harm.

But last week was an important step forward.

Led by charter school students themselves.

Toward, yes, important new relationships in Michigan, right when they matter most.

But even more importantly:

Toward what our advocacy needs absolutely everywhere:

Greater imagination.