Sometimes it Takes Students to Remind Us What We're Fighting For

June 11, 2012

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Some days we can forget why we signed up to advocate for charter public schools. We constantly have to battle those whose only interest is stopping charters from flourishing in California. Or we have to explain for the umpteenth time how our schools are being hurt by funding inequities and delays. But May 22 was not one of those days for CCSA's Government Affairs staff, thanks to a group of amazing seventh and eighth graders from the International School of Monterey.

These students participated in a Schoolwide Enrichment Model, or SEM, class and learned about advocacy skills. The project-style learning gave them a chance to learn about charter school funding issues as well as public presentation skills. As part of the class, they came to Sacramento to meet with their legislators, Assemblymember Bill Monning and Senator Sam Blakeslee.

Sitting around the CCSA conference table before they headed to the Capitol, the students shared their presentation they intended to give the legislators. They needed little prepping from the Government Affairs team as they had used their time during SEM to prepare an excellent presentation for their Advocacy Day. The students had studied the Governor's May Revision, clearly understood CCSA's position, and were prepared to advocate for charter funding equity. Like any good advocate, they closed their presentation with an "ask" of the Legislators: to support funding equity for California's charter public schools.

The presentation itself was done in Prezi, an online presentation software program. It was smart, witty and insightful. They wove in details about charter school funding inequity with information about their school and why the project based learning model was so important to them. The students (Camilla Diamond, Teagan Mauck, Mario Tanabe, and Lucas Tilley) were accompanied by their SEM teacher Lisa Griffin Burns, Operations and HR Manager at ISM, and John Tilley, ISM Board of Trustees member and parent of Lucas Tilley.

It was such a pleasant reminder about why we work for California's 412,000 charter public school students just like the fantastic students of the International School of Monterey. The team from ISM embodies the spirit of grassroots advocacy. If you want to see the students' presentation, you can view it on the Prezi website.

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