Administration Applauds Bay Mills Charter School

Nov 15th, 2003 | By | Category: 15-2: Reclaiming Native Health, Tribal College News
UNDERSECRETARY GENE HICKOCK

CHARTER CHOICE. U.S. Under Secretary of Education Gene Hickok (second from left) gets a tour of Keystone Academy with (left to right) Peter Ruppert, president, National Heritage Academies; Mickey Parish, president, Bay Mills Community College; John Lufkins, tribal chair, Bay Mills Indian Community, Dan Quisenberry, president, Michigan Association of Public School Academies, and J.C. Huizenga, founder, National Heritage Academies. Photo by Joe Wilssens

U.S. Under Secretary of Education Eugene W. Hickok recently traveled to a charter school in Michigan to call national attention to the efforts of Bay Mills Community College (BMCC, Brimley, MI). The tribal college president, Mickey Parish, and Board of Regents Member L. John Lufkins shared the spotlight with the under secretary at the Keystone Academy, a charter school near Belleville set to open in fall 2003. “Charter schools go back to the original intent of schools, which is a love of teaching kids,” Hickok said. “Charter schools are about freedom and empowering people.”

Bay Mills Community College is the only entity in Michigan currently able to approve new charter schools anywhere in the state. Hickok, emphasizing that the college has the support of President George W. Bush’s administration, added, “We’re not backing off. We are pushing on every front. The college administration has shown that they are responsible decision-makers when it comes to issuing charters.” He hopes to engage other tribal colleges across the country in chartering schools, since he said statistics show that charter schools improve tribal access to greater educational choice.

“Bay Mills Community College represents hope for thousands of children and parents who want to be able to choose charter schools,” Hickok added during his appearance on July 15. As they became more immersed in the issue of charter schools, Bay Mills leaders realized that residents across the state were mired in similar situations, whether they were in urban cities or rural areas and regardless of their backgrounds. Consequently Bay Mills decided to confront the problems of poor-quality education on a broader basis.

The college issued its first two charter schools in 2001 in Bay City and Pontiac, MI. In 2002, the college received 53 applications for charters and selected eight schools, which were expected to open in fall 2003. Earlier this summer the college received 10 more applications for charters, which will go through an extensive review process before being approved by the National Heritage Academies, the entity created by Bay Mills to manage the charter schools.

For more information, contact Bay Mills Community College at (906) 248-3354 or Sherry Knight at (517) 764-5167.

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