If you have not heard of the Catherine Ferguson Academy School in Detroit, the attempt to close the school and the fight to keep it open which is now winning you should.
I have written much about the issue at Daily Censored and you can simply use our search engine and type in the name of the school and articles will come up covering the story.
The following is by BAMN (By Any Means Necessary), one of the staunchest fighters for students’ and teachers’ rights and a major player in the struggle to keep Catherine Ferguson Academy School open.
You can learn more about what BAMN is doing to fight for civil rights, immigrant rights, and Martin Luther King’s ‘Dream’ for integration at www.bamn.com.
Detroit Students, Fight Back! Defend Your Right to a Quality Education! Unite in Action with The Catherine Ferguson Academy School for Young Women (CFA)!
We can save all of our schools and programs by uniting in action and winning the next defense of CFA. Defending CFA means coming to CFA when called and rallying outside of the school as long as it takes, until our demands are met.
On April 15, 2011, the brave students of Catherine Ferguson Academy School led Detroit and shook up the nation by sitting down and refusing to leave the school over spring break. Next time, if hundreds, not just dozens of people are gathered outside supporting the defenders of the school, we will win. Just like the auto workers forced the powerful auto companies to recognize their union in the 1930’s through sit-down strikes, and black college students in the South broke the back of segregation by sitting down at lunch counters, we must recognize, just as Dr. Martin Luther King did, that if young people act on “the fierce urgency of now,” we can move mountains.
On May 19th, the students of BAMN and CFA held a press conference and issued demands for CFA and other Detroit Public Schools- that the DPS or any other entity that is planning to run CFA, maintain all the programs and services that make CFA the nationally-renown, successful school it is. If there is any attempt to close, “down-size” or dismantle CFA, we will organize a massive mobilization and occupation of CFA to keep it open. The CFA demands include all of our demands. Read them and if you have more, bring them to the action. But above all, we must organize in the schools if we are to win. Students will not mobilize spontaneously.
The CFA Occupiers’ Demands are the following:
- Defend Public Education
- Keep Catherine Ferguson Open
- No School Closings
- Keep All Detroit Public 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 or any other collective actions taken to defend public education
At this point, we are winning at CFA. Our occupation has already resulted in keeping some schools open. If more students and youth in Detroit stand up and fight, we will win much more. Now is the time to stop listening to the naysayers in our life–the three Ps–parents, principals and preachers, who all too often speak out of fear and not strength. Join the movement and fight for your dignity, equality and hope for your future.
The plan the enemies of public education have for Detroit is irrational. They are fully aware their statistics are wrong and fabricated and that this plan will make the district lose money. For example, they say CFA costs the District $2.7 million** when it really only costs $750,000 and the rest comes from federal funding. The racist, white billionaires who do not want to pay for public education, believe that the people of Detroit do not have value and want to fulfill that prophecy through force.
This is about implementing the New Jim Crow and forcing people to defer their dreams through imposing a “badge of inferiority” on black and Latina/o students and blocking any opportunity for them to lead and shine. It is their intention to destroy public education, and get away with it with only formal objections from the community, without any serious consequences, without Detroiters organizing and raising total HELL to stop the destruction of our schools and our neighborhoods.Roberts and their tiny minority of billionaire backers and politicians ARE NOT OUR FRIENDS.
They are not even potential friends, who we can warm up to, to get favors from. They are closing schools and firing teachers to drive students out of the district and gentrify the city by race and class. Middle-class students will go to private schools or leave the city, and poor students will be warehoused in inferior, overcrowded schools. Whether or not our schools stay open or teachers keep their jobs depends on whether we can overcome our fears and express our anger in a collective manner, and put our foot down and declare that Detroit students, our schools, our programs, our neighborhoods and our city are not for sale.
We are constantly harassed and brutalized by the police, and in the case of immigrant students, by the border patrol. Detroit students can bring all of this degradation to a halt. Our movement can declare that we refuse to be subjected to educational ‘experiments’ at the whims of rich people because they want to profit off of us through cheap education schemes.
We can end the regime of overcrowded classrooms, police in the schools doling out repression and brutality, and turning what should be places of learning, where we can express and develop our full creativity and humanity, into cheap, stripped-down, prison-like holding cells. We want and deserve the full range of subjects and extracurriculars – art, music, dance, theatre, sports, AP and foreign language courses, chess, etc. – that a first-class comprehensive public education has to offer.
To the extent that any school becomes a charter, if they do not meet the full standards of the students and parents, they must lose their charter immediately!We CAN defeat this plan, but only by getting off our knees and fighting back. It’s time to heed the words of Frederick Douglass, one of the greatest leaders in the history of our nation, who said, “Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.
Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress.”*Catherine Ferguson Academy (CFA) is a Detroit Public School (2750 Selden Street, two blocks North of MLK/Mack and one block east of I-96).
CFA students are standing on their feet fighting to defend public education, fighting to stop the destruction of programs in our schools through class size increases and elimination of our teachers, and against the closing of all of the public schools on the closing list. CFA is on the list to be closed. It is a school for pregnant and parenting teenage girls.
At CFA, teen mothers, our sisters, cousins and friends, are not treated as outcasts, but are cared for and treated as fellow persons with value. CFA is a regular comprehensive high school, where the students can bring their children. There is early childhood development and pre-school classes, and a nursery. There are doctors, nurses and others who come to the school to provide services for the students and the children to make sure that they are both successful.
There is also a wonderful farm with goats, ducks, chickens, vegetables and even a horse. CFA is a JEWELL of DETROIT and it is our school- we must defend it and defend ourselves. **The Detroit News, 05/27/2011 DONATIONS NEEDED to pay the Catherine Ferguson mothers’ fines and to sustain the movement to save Catherine Ferguson Academy and Detroit’s public schools! (http://www.bamn.com/public-education/catherine-ferguson-high-school-detroit).
Catherine Ferguson Academy is Still Our School We will not Let it be Destroyed! - Petition to Defend CFA
Catherine Ferguson Academy Students come to CFA because we want a better life for ourselves and our children. We know that to do this, we must go to college. At CFA, we gain the skills and knowledge we need to do that. Our teachers care about us and help us, they don’t judge us. We have all the classes we need plus many electives like Web Design, Nursing Assistant preparation, Dance, Foods/Cooking, Art, Drama, Instrumental Music, Vocal music, Farming and Agricultural business and Home repair, and the quarterly schedule allows us to earn more credits to make up from missing school for maternity leave, or even get ahead by earning extra credits. When student leaders joined BAMN and organized to save CFA last year, we knew it wasn’t the end of the struggle. Well, it’s time to fight again, and just like last time, we intend to win. Plans to make CFA a “Big Picture School” starting next school year do not fit with our plans for our future. We will not let CFA become a school that does not provide us with the skills and knowledge we need to be successful in college. Replacing our classes with two days per week working at unpaid internships, and “advisories” where students do individual projects and take on-line classes is not acceptable. We did not fight to keep CFA open to have it turned into this, and we are determined to defend our school by any means necessary. High school must prepare us for college, not to become uneducated, underpaid, working poor mothers. The “Big Picture Plan” is a plan to fail – for us as students, and for CFA as a school. If it’s such a great model, why don’t they use it at expensive private schools, or wealthy white suburban schools? They call it the “Big Picture”, but we see the REAL picture: a low-grade, meaningless education. We will not let this happen at CFA. We intend to fight again and continue fighting for our school and all the resources we need. We know that our lives, our futures, and the future of our children depend on it. Our Demands: CFA must remain a full, comprehensive High School with all core academic classes and all electives, taught by certified teachers, not on-line facilitators or general advisors. Students must determine the character of the school. We MUST have transportation – Reinstate School Bus Services Immediately. More Outreach so more pregnant students and new moms know about CFA. Bring back Mom and Baby program to provide more parenting skills. Healthier and better tasting lunches for all students (Moms and babies).