Students, faculty take over Detroit school in protest

April 15, 2011
By

(Posted by Heron, written by Simone Landon)

About eight students, several faculty members and supporters have taken over Catherine Ferguson Academy in a attempt to save the Detroit public school from closure.

Students began their occupation at the end of classes Friday, as the school was let out for a week-long April break.

Speaking by phone from inside the school library, science teacher Nicole Conaway said students and their supporters had agreed to stay in the building as long as possible, with the aim being to remain there for the coming week. Conaway said the occupation was the students’ idea. “We’ve done petitioning, we’ve done letter writing. This is the sit-in portion.”

CFA is the city’s only public school specifically designed for pregnant teens and teen mothers. It was slated for closure last year as part of DPS Emergency Financial Manager Robert Bobb’s plan to downsize the school system, but protests from students and community members kept it open.

About 200 students attend CFA, and the school’s urban farm has been featured in a documentary film, Grown in Detroit. Support programs for young women include childcare and parenting classes, as well as subjects covered in any high school. Students are adamant that the school remain open.

The city has proposed that CFA students return to their local public schools, but Conaway says, “half the students here would drop out if that happened.” She said the students have a list of four demands: “1) Defend public education; 2) keep all schools open; 3) maintain all academic extracurricular and school support — and restore those that have been lost; and 4) students must have the right to determine the character of their education.”

“This school was started 20 years ago when students said we need child care, we need support services. So students today are saying the same thing,” Conaway added. Bobb’s office did not return calls for comment.

 

(Read our 2004 cover story about CFA.)

  • Anonymous

    Around 7 p.m. the detroit cops arrested all the teachers and students inside

  • Gerrald302

    If it was a local tax base keeping the school district running they would have a right to protest, they don’t.

  • Tsa1928

    This will not be the last in the words of Michael Moore the middle class and the poor “Have had enough!”

  • Cclynny

    If it wasn’t for a school like that one (in Lincoln Park) I would not have graduated. These types of schools- for young mothers and pregnant teens, are very much needed and to take away is a step back in evolution.

  • http://twitter.com/nefermore cj

    These T party governors need to be stopped before they do so much damage we cant repair it.

  • Daenna Newkirk

    Dear Rachel Maddow,
    This is the letter I sent to Gov. Rick Snyder today. I hope others decent folks will do the same on behalf of the young girls of Catherin Ferguson Academy and their Principal Asenath Andrews. Please Rachel, you show us the truth about what is happening in our America, help me spread the word about Gov. Rick Snyder by continuing to report, and up dating us on what is really happening in Michigan. I would very much like your help in helping me with a letter writing campaign concerning Gov. Rick Snyder’s al-Qaeda style tactics he is imposing on these young girls in keeping them from attending their beloved school and achieving an education. — Daenna Newkirk,
    This is the letter I wrote:

    Rick Snyder:
    “THIS IS AMERICA! THIS IS YOUR AMERICA, YOU GOVERNOR RICK SNYDER SHOULD WELL BE EDUCATED ENOUGH TO KNOW THAT YOU ARE IMPOSING A HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION ON THESE YOUNG WOMEN WHO ARE TRYING TO DO NOTHING MORE THAN TO ACHIEVE AN EDUCATION SO THEY CAN TAKE CARE OF THEIR CHILDREN! THIS IS MY AMERICA YOU DON’T DO THIS IN MY COUNTRY!” YOU WILL NOT TAKE THE RIGHT OF THESE YOUNG WOMEN TO ATTEND THEIR SCHOOL! EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN AMERICA SHOULD BE ABSOLUTELY OUTRAGED THAT YOU GOVERNOR RICK SNYDER, HAVE TRIED TO TURN OUR COUNTRY, YOUR STATE, INTO A DICTATOR RUN BANANA REPUBLIC! THE EYES OF THE WORLD ARE ON YOU SIR! I WILL PERSONALLY SHINE SUCH A LIGHT, AND AWARENESS TO WHAT YOU HAVE DONE TO VIOLATE THESE YOUNG LADIES BASIC HUMAN RIGHTS,–TO LIFE LIBERTY AND PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS. THESE YOUNG WOMEN HAVE THE RIGHT TO PURSUE DIGNITY TO ACHIEVE AN EDUCATION. I WILL NOT REST IN EXPOSING YOU FOR WHAT YOU ARE SIR. YOU ARE AN UN-AMERICAN OPPORTUNISTIC PREDATOR GOVERNOR SNYDER! YOU ARE A TRAVESTY TO THE OATH OF OFFICE THAT YOU WERE ELECTED TO HOLD! YOU WILL REVERSE YOUR AL-QAEDA STYLE TACTICS THAT YOU HAVE IMPOSED ON THESE YOUNG GIRLS. YOU WILL APOLOGIZE TO ALL OF THEM. YOU WILL RELEASE THOSE YOUNG GIRLS FROM JAIL WITH OUT PREJUDICE AT ONCE! YOU WILL ALLOW THOSE YOUNG GIRLS, THEIR TEACHER’S AND THEIR PRINCIPAL ASENATH ANDREWS, TO RETURN TO CATHERINE FERGUSON ACADEMY, A DETROIT PUBLIC SCHOOL, AND YOU WILL DO IT NOW!” — Daenna Newkirk

  • guest

    the students don’t have a right to voice their opinions about what their school should be providing them? really? Is this Iran?

  • Bigbill

    Did I Mis read the article that stated this was slated for closure LAST YEAR?!

    So where are the Teaparty responsible for the closure?

    Lenin had it right,”Usefull Idiots”, parroting what they are told by the mouthpieces of one-think.

    Bill

  • Bigbill

    Did I mis-read the article that stated this was slated for closure LAST YEAR?!

    Did I also read that the former (D) Governor actually hired Mr. Robb? Or maybe I also misundrstood that he recommended that 200 schools be closed LAST YEAR, before the election.

    How many others have bothered to look into the fact that this is a school, built to house 700 that now is being used by around 300.

    Maybe Rachel Pulled the 90% out of her ass since the state Edu. Board seems to disprove her lie, e.g. http://detroitk12.org/schools/reports/

    So where are the Teaparty responsible for the closure?

    Lenin had it right,Rachel being a “Usefull Idiot”, and Sheeple parroting what they are told by the mouthpieces of one-think.

    Bill

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  • Bjohnson1969

    arresting pregnant teenagers? you guys voted for republicans. . . .remember this next time you vote…

    i pray none of those girls or their unborn babies were harmed. the thought sickens me

  • MichelleBarish

    where are all of the pro-lifers? They got their wish. These women “chose life” and chose education, and now they are being arrested for trying to create a life for themselves and their children. The “pro-life” movement needs to put their money where their politics are, and save this school. Here is just another example of them caring for “life” until it is actually born. Then, it can go starve or live in the streets for all they care.

  • CT class 76

    I agree with the right to protest, but a lot of citys dont have special schools for pregnant teens. My god daughter was pregnant during her senior year at an all girls catholic school, she did not drop out. DPS has limited resources there are pregnant teens at outher schools in DPS. That school while needed was not the only way these young women could complete there  HS education.