Holly Academy fourth graders learned about budgeting, civic participation and how government works all in one experience on Wednesday, Oct. 9.
Teacher Becky Maly said her students along with students from Tracy Vana’s class experienced “authentic learning” about the state government during a field trip that included touring the Capitol building and the Michigan Hall of Justice, which houses the Michigan Supreme Court.
This annual trip also included making signs protesting Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s veto of the regular annual increase in Michigan charter school funding and then protesting in front of her officers.
According to the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, Whitmer used line item veto to strike the annual standard increase in per pupil funding for charter schools. Under the plan, they’re now funded $240 less per pupil than even the lowest-funded public school districts.
Under the governor’s budget, these charter schools will stay at the $7,871 in per pupil funding. “This is a serious issue for us, which impacts every student and staff member at our school,” said Maly in an email.
So, students made signs and fought for their own school funding. They made signs with their own slogans and according to Maly, chanted passionately in front of the governor’s offices.
“They learned how they can use their voices to stand up for public policy issues that are meaningful to them,” Maly said. She said they were interviewed by reporters from two Lansing TV stations, as well as Detroit newspapers, and the Michigan Association of Public School Academies (MAPSA.)
“We believe charter school students are just as important as traditional public school students,” Maly said. “It is unfortunate that we are caught in the middle of party politics in this situation.”
Ken Kander is director of finance and operations at Holly Academy. He said the last time charter school budgets were cut was in 2012. He said this proposed budget would cut approximately$110,000 from the next budget year. He said the money might have to come from streamlining staff, whether through reduced hours or terminations. He said all 620 students would be impacted by this.
The budget is not yet in effect. According to the Detroit Free Press, Whitmer is calling on the GOP-led legislature to create supplemental bills to restore some of the funding she cut with line items totaling $1 billion.