During the week of May 6 – 12, over 5,600 charter schools in the United States celebrated National Charter Schools Week. I had the fortune to experience TWO great charter adventures during that week. The first was in D.C., advocating for all charter schools, which I discussed in an earlier post on my blog www.DECharters.org.
The 2nd adventure took place on Thursday, May 10, in Dover, DE, rallying with over 2,000 students, parents, staff, school leaders, and other education stakeholders celebrating our 22 charter schools in Delaware. AMAZING!
We had our Delaware Military Academy (DMA) students in dress uniform. We had the Presentation of the Colors and a moving performance by the DMA chorus of the National Anthem. I had two members of the DMA exhibition team flanking me at the podium and at one point they even demonstrated their rifle spinning skills! We had fabulous speakers including State Board of Education President Dr. Teri Quinn Gray , Senator Dave Sokola, and Representative Deborah Hudson (who led the students in a wave and sending love to Governor Markell.) We had chants. We had enthusiasm. We had FUN!
We also had great posters throughout the crowd. Most created by students – showing their pride in their schools and in all charter schools. One theme prevailed throughout, articulated by some via social media:
Pls RT “Charter Schools R Public Schools 2” #DECharters #NetDE #NCSW
Maybe it is the lack of public in our name. Maybe it is because we only represent 8% of public school students in DE. Maybe 17 years in existence is still new to some. Maybe we just don’t talk about ourselves enough. Whatever the cause, some still do not realize that we are Public Schools Too. That’s okay though, because we are here to make sure that all know that we are an integral part of the public school system throughout Delaware and the United States. We are also telling the world about the incredible work that we are doing for our students in our charter schools. We are proud of that work and want to inform the whole system of the possibilities. Thursday was just the beginning!
This rally was not just about celebrating our schools. It was also about celebrating the home of our legislature, the process by which we enact our laws, and those who enact them. Legislative Hall is where Delaware’s elected officials do great work that affects us all. While all of us can name the President and Vice President of the United States, and many of us could name the U.S. Secretary of Education, few of us are aware of the work that is done at the state level by our legislators. It simply is not as prevalent in our day-to-day lives. Therefore, I feel it’s important for all of our students to understand how the legislative process affects them and who is responsible for it. And on May 10th, our students did just that. They were on the lawn in front of the building where it all happens – Legislative Hall. Understanding Legislative Hall, knowing where it is, and knowing that those inside are ultimately responsible to ‘we the people’ are all critical for students to experience as they realize their emerging role as citizens.
I am so proud of our students, staff, leaders, and parents that were present and able to celebrate with us that day. I am so proud to celebrate all of our schools every day.