MI Charter Trailblazers

We're celebrating 25 years of charter school success across Michigan. We couldn't have become what we are today without our key trailblazing pioneers.

The path to innovation was bumpy,

but our determined leaders prevailed

In 1993, key leaders across Michigan embarked on a bold journey to change the state of public education in a new and dynamic way. Faced with falling graduation rates, low math and reading scores, and an increasingly competitive global workforce, these leaders knew that innovation was critical. In a bold speech addressing a grand education reform strategy, Governor John Engler proposed the creation of new autonomous public schools, which would offer a new realm of school choice for parents. Those schools would later become known as "charter public schools."

Join us as we travel back 25 years, and follow along with four of the movement's core leaders on their exciting journeys to empowering students and families.

Meet our pioneers

A photo of Mohamad Issa.

Mohamad Issa

Discover how a businessman and father transformed the quality of education for refugee and immigrant students with family support beyond the classroom.

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A photo of Cora Christmas.

Cora Christmas

See how a key partnership with Ford Motor Company & the Henry Ford Museum gave Detroit students the chance to learn amidst history, every day.

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A photo of George McManus.

George McManus

Meet a successful farmer who pioneered experiential learning in the form of agriculture & environmental science in a high-poverty rural community.

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A photo of Mickey Parish.

Mickey Parish

Find out how a tribal college fought for the right to provide better education for students in under - represented populations, despite legal pressure.

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25 year milestones

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Michigan sees its first charters

In 1994, Governor John Engler brings his visionary speech to fruition, signing charter schools officially into law. To achieve partisan support of the bill, a provision was added to include a cap of 150 total charter schools that could open in Michigan.

That fall, nine charter schools open their doors to families across the state.

Learn more about the Michigan charter school vision. 


The cap is reached

150 charter schools open their doors, thanks to parental demand and support, officially reaching the mandated "cap."

This would kick off a decade-long fight, in which MAPSA, parents, educators and advocates banned together to help life the cap and enable new charter schools to open to families. 

Learn more about Michigan's charter fight. 

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Michigan says farewell to the cap

After a decade of hard work, Governor Rick Snyder, with support from parents, educators, advocates and other charter school stakeholders, passed legislation to remove the limit on new charter schools. 

Today, there are nearly 300 charter schools across Michigan.

Learn more about Michigan's charter schools.

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