By Nicole Conaway
June 1, 2011
On May 26, Detroit Public Schools Emergency manager Roy Roberts announced changes to the district’s school consolidation and closure plan.
Claiming it was in response to “broad community input” the modifications are ostensibly to ”cut operating costs and align resources to maximize services to students.” The plan euphemizes that Catherine Ferguson is one of the buildings “coming off line”.
Roberts also claims to be “developing a transition plan for continuing the services” of CFA and two other alternative high schools to “focus on remediation and return to traditional schools.” The other two schools, Hancock and Barsamian, serve students who have been expelled from other schools, usually for violent offenses. The objectives of those programs are completely different and it is completely inappropriate to put CFA in the same category.
Students choose to attend CFA because they are committed to their education and to providing a better life for their children, and require the support services CFA provides in order to to so.
The truth is that Roberts and his backers don’t have any real plan to continue the service CFA provides. They are trying to ride things out until the end of the school year when they think they will be safe from a public outcry.
To date there has been no public meeting regarding the future of the Catherine Ferguson Academy. No one from the Emergency Manager’s office has even visited the school or met with school administration, staff, or students. No accurate information has been shared about the actual cost of operating CFA, the supposed reasons for closing the school, or any plan to continue services CFA provides. We must insist that our voices be heard and the truth be told.
(Click on http://detroitk12.org/content/2011/05/26/dps-alters-school-closureconsolidation-plan-after-broad-community-input/ to read Roberts’ statement.)
The students and teachers at DFA are demanding a public hearing on their unique school, attended by EM Roy Roberts, before any decision is made on its future. To assist these young mothers, their children, and their supporters in circulating the petition, you can sign online at:
PETITION FOR A PUBLIC HEARING ON THE FUTURE OF CFA
CFA is a nationally renowned, successful high school that has provided a quality education for pregnant and parenting teen girls for twenty years. CFA offers:
● Small classes to provide a supportive learning environment.
● A modified schedule and dual enrollment night school to allow students to recover creditsand get a head start on college.
● Support services like WIC, healthcare for moms and babies, and early education from birth through pre-K.
● An organic farm and orchard that provide a unique outdoor learning environment.
CFA is more than the sum of its programs; it is a lifeline for growth, development and abetter future for the young women and their children. Pregnancy is the number one reason girls drop out of school. Approximately 70% of teenage girls who give birth leave school (ACLU.org). All CFA graduates are accepted to community college or university and secured with financial aid.
In a recent press statement the new EM, Roy Roberts, lumped CFA in with remedial programs at Barsamian and Hancock, but CFA is not a remedial program. Being pregnant is not a crime, and pregnant girls should be supported, not punished and degraded.
“Transition” back to a regular high school with no infant care and pre-school, no credit recovery program, no parenting classes, no support for the young mothers to continue their education and enhance the education of their children, will force these young women out of school.
The community supports CFA, and deserves the transparency and accountability that its public school system should provide.
We the undersigned, call on EM Roy Roberts to attend a public hearing on the future of CFA, at a time and place convenient to the community, to hear from the CFA students, teachers and community about the importance of maintaining CFA as it currently exists, and to answer questions about the actual costs to DPS, how much is covered by federal funds, and the costs to the students, their children and the community if CFA is closed.