City-wide baby shower at Catherine Ferguson Academy


Following in the civil rights tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks, Catherine Ferguson students — along with their babies and toddlers, teachers and supporters — have begun a peaceful occupation of Catherine Ferguson Academy (CFA). CFA, located at 2750 Selden, is a Detroit Public school that is slated to be closed in June. The students who are sitting down have five demands:

  • No School Closings
  • Keep All Detroit Schools Public – No More Charters or Privatization
  • Reinstate all programs and services that have been eliminated, including art & music as   well as counselors & social workers
  • Student Control of Curriculum and School Character to assure that every Detroit school provides equal, quality education for all
  • No discipline or retaliation against any of the participants in the occupation

Catherine Ferguson Academy

Catherine Ferguson Academy (CFA) is a Detroit public high school for pregnant and parenting teen girls– the only one of its kind in the nation. Providing an excellent education and services for both the teen mothers and their children, CFA has received international attention, numerous awards and is the subject of several documentaries.

 “When people at my regular high school realized that I was pregnant, I was told my chances of being a success in life were over. At Catherine Ferguson, they told me they wouldn’t allow me to be anything BUT a success. I love CFA, and I am prepared to fight to keep it open, not only for myself, but for all the girls who will come behind me,” said Ashley Matthews, a junior at CFA.

Bobb, Adams say Catherine Ferguson Academy is OUT!

With approximately 200 students who come not only from Detroit, but also from the surrounding suburbs, every year Catherine Ferguson achieves a 90% graduation rate and 100% of those who graduate are accepted to two- or four-year colleges, most with financial aid.

If this school closes, or if any of our services are eliminated, I believe that over half of CFA students will drop out of high school because they don’t have anyone to watch their baby while they attend classes,” said Dalana Gray, who is a senior at CFA. Also, this school benefits our children, because the early education program teaches them a lot that they wouldn’t learn if they were kept at home.”

The school provides pre-natal and parenting classes, and offers high school student mothers the opportunity to finish their high school education immediately after giving birth by providing on-site daycare, early childhood development services, and pre-school for their children, as well as on-site medical, dental and social services, so the young women don’t have to miss school to attend appointments. What also makes CFA unique is its organic garden and farm with chickens, goats and a horse, which the students maintain as part of their science education.

Southeastern High School students protested with walk-outs, sit-ins in March

Nicole Conaway, a science teacher at CFA who decided to join her students in the occupation said, “As a teacher, I can find another job, but for my students, if Catherine Ferguson closes, there are no alternatives. The same can be said for many of the students at other schools on the closing list – the Day School for the Deaf; Rutherford, which is the home of two autistic programs; Moses Fields, which educates many learning disabled children, and several neighborhood schools that are the anchors for their communities. It’s time to say: no more. ”

”The massive school closures that have been carried out in DPS since 2004 have led to the depopulation of Detroit and to the deepening financial crisis of the district. Public schools are being closed to make way for charters and are part of the national attack on public education. Today Detroit – tomorrow, every city in America. The parents and students of Catherine Ferguson are fighting to maintain the right of every student in our nation to a free, quality public education. Every supporter of public education should do everything possible to support their fight and make sure they succeed”, said Shanta Driver, National Chairperson of By Any Means Necessary (BAMN), which is helping to organize and coordinate the occupations.

For more information, call Monica Smith at 313-585-3637 or call 855-ASK-BAMN

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  6. Jennifer says:

    Clearly, the goal here is to save money at the expense of the children of Detroit. big money doesn’t care about the “little” people. I hate that these are the very same people that want cuts in welfare because they view the people on welfare as lazy. The problem is, without schools such as CFA, there is a guarantee there will be more people on welfare when they are adults because they will be less likely to graduate from high school. Yes, it’s a small school. Yes, it has some expensive programs in the school (day care is not cheap, I know, I used to be a day care infant teacher). These things are VERY necessary in an urban school such as Detroit (or Cleveland where I live now) where you see a higher instance of teenage pregnancies. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t have such a problem. This is not a perfect world and the solution is NOT to defund and remove programs that are out there to help deal with life’s imperfections.

    For all those young women who had the courage to sit in and support your school even when faced with the threat and then actuality of arrest, I salute you. Keep on with the struggle to defend your school and your right to a quality education. You are not alone in this fight.

  7. Sheryl Threadgill-Matthews says:

    I am supportive of these students who are protesting the closing of the schools that have helped them and have enhanced their educational endeavors. Ashley Matthews, my grand daughter, attends Catherine Ferguson. Her grand father and I live in Alabama. Her mother works. The non traditional programs and supports that she has received at CFA has made it possible for her to move towards in-dependency. The Detroit School system should consider the long range costs that will occur if this institution closes. Let’s think about our children.

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