Detroit’s school for young moms rescued from closure

A school for teen mothers with a 90% graduation rate (almost twice the national average) was slated for closure this year due to the draconian budget cuts being administered in Detroit. To add additional controversy, the decision was made by an emergency manager, appointed by the Governor, in a seeming effort to side-step the decision-making powers of elected officials.

Channing Kennedy at Colorlines wrote about the school back in April. From his piece:

The Catherine Ferguson Academy is a unique public high school serving 300 students in inner-city Detroit. It’s the only of its kind in the country; it works exclusively with teen mothers and mothers-to-be, providing day care services and other needed resources for its students. It also has a strong focus on farming and agriculture, and it also claims a 90 percent graduation rate, a percentage unprecedented in historically underserved majority-black school districts, to say nothing of graduation rates for teen mothers.

In it’s eleventh hour, the school is being saved by a charter school company called Evans Solutions. While it’s definitely good that this school will continue to exist, it’s still unclear what the fate of it will be under this new company. Charter schools are highly contentious. Some believe they are simply a way to privatize public education and that they are run on profit models that don’t prioritize the educational needs of students. Others argue that they bring innovative educational models to struggling schools and communities. It’s a way more complicated issue than I can do justice here. For a much deeper feminist perspective on education policy, check out the work of Dana Goldstein.

As I wrote about in my May feature at Colorlines, teen parents get little support and a lot of shaming. Schools like Catherine Ferguson provide an environment that allows young parents to survive and even thrive as students as well as parents.

We’re going to have to wait and see if the Catherine Ferguson Academy maintains it’s impressive programs in this next phase. I definitely hope so.

Join the Conversation

  • Andrea

    I can’t tell you how happy I am that this partial victory happened. My dear friend had been volunteering up at the school’s farm every week, and I first heard about the school from her. Schools like the Catherine Ferguson Academy are incredibly rare, especially in places like Detroit. Hopefully the school can continue to provide child care for the students, and continues to focus on sustainable urban farming. All I did in this process was post to facebook and tweet the emergency financial manager like crazy (Roy Roberts), but I am so glad the rallies and all the support for the school made a difference.

  • Wren Fair

    I’m glad they are keeping the school open, but the thing that really worries me about this post is that 90% is almost twice the average graduation rate in this country! I would argue that privatization, though currently being hailed as the “savior” of education in our economic crisis, has actually done more to corrode our education system over time than, say, teacher’s unions. Privatization makes learning a for profit venture, which seemingly allows for the curriculum to be dictated by those who now own these “education companies” (shiver), and I predict these will not have much more success then state standardized tests. The more students they graduate or “pass” through, the greater the profit. Like everything else in this country, education will succumb to an economic model that gains the most monetary output for the least amount of intellectual input.

  • Jessica “Jess” Victoria Carillo

    I think Rachel Maddow did a story on the school one time. I think it’s incredible that the school is saved. Though I’m wary of the company. Godspeed Catherine Ferguson Academy