National School Choice Week Shines Light on What’s Right in Detroit

Families exercising choice sing its praises at January rally

Hundreds of children, families and educators filled the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in January. Their purpose: Celebrate the school choices they enjoy and raise awareness of the benefits of choice in hopes that other students may one day have those same opportunities. 

The event was part of National School Choice Week, an annual celebration marked by over 21,000 events across the 50 states. In Detroit, students from public charter, online and private schools heard from fellow students and Dr. Steve Perry, founder of Connecticut’s Capital Preparatory Magnet School and a leading school choice advocate.   

“The parent and families know what’s best for the student and what their needs are,” said Emily Anne Gullickson, a representative from National School Choice Week. “What you really want is your student to be set up for success and have the best opportunity possible. We are here to celebrate whatever that right fit is that gives each child a great opportunity and an education.”

For 11th-grader Charlena Wade, the mentorship and support offered at Cornerstone Health + Technology High School is proving to be the right fit. 

“When I first started my ninth-grade year, my grades were terrible,” Wade said, explaining that her 0.49 GPA in the first semester nearly forced her into an alternative high school. 

Then, her Detroit charter school paired her with a mentor, and that changed everything. 

“I ended my ninth grade with a 3.2,” Wade said. Now, she maintains a 4.0 GPA, is a member of the National Honor Society and is preparing to study veterinary science and music when she gets to college. 

Wade’s was one of many comeback stories of children whose futures were bleak until they found a school that met their needs. 

Perry called the act of bringing education to underprivileged minorities revolutionary and urged the audience to keep fighting for choice, lest a child’s destiny be determined by ZIP code.