Catherine Ferguson Academy: Why are Pregnant Teens Being Arrested in Detroit?

Over the past few days I’ve been wondering why has the above story yet to catch on in the mainstream media. Honestly, outside of Rachel Maddow covering it, I don’t hear much. But then it hit me that this story involves the already embattled city of Detroit, and a group of twelve students arrested for peacefully protesting the potential closing of their school. Yes, a story about kids fighting to keep a school open just isn’t as “sexy” as say, a story highlighting the dysfunction of one hundred pregnant teens at a Memphis, TN. school. A story which caught national attention and had the blogosphere ablaze, black people hanging their heads in shame, and even a local mayor defending the school.

Oh well, if only the students and teachers at Detroit’s Catherine Furguson Academy could be so lucky to garner some much needed media attention. The school is designated as one scheduled for closure by Detroit’s Emergency Financial Manager, Robert Bobb. It is still to be determined if the school itself would be transformed into a charter school. But Bobb with powers granted by the governor’s Financial Martial Law otherwise known as Public Act 4, ultimately hods the trump cards in that decision; right now, there’s a fifty-fifty chance that the school stays open; that is, unless it’s profitable.

You see, good Ole Robert Bobb, like a dictator, has sweeping powers to modify contracts, fire officials, and disregard public input. As a matter of protocol, he has already issued lay off notices to some 5,466 public teachers. Some of whom he hopes to rehire to work at for profit charter schools of the forty one proposed closed schools which would house some 16,000 Detroit students, Before this proposal, Bobb did the media tour crying about having to reduce the public school system to an average of sixty kids per classroom. An announcement which I think set the stage for the privatization of Detroit schools.

Well damn RiPPa, why err’thing gotta be a conspiracy with you?

Well, it turns out per Forbes that Bobb is a recent graduate of the Broad’s Foundation Superintendent Academy. Here’s what E,D. Kain has to say about Bobb, the Broad Foundation, and what I see as motive:
The Broad Foundation, along with the Kellogg Foundation, pays Bobb $145,000 a year on top of his $280,000 government salary. For those of you not familiar with Broad, it is one of the leading foundations promoting school choice and privatization across the country. One might almost think that paying a public official hundreds of thousands of dollars a year might amount to nothing short of bribery, especially given the very specific agenda of a foundation like the Broad Foundation.

Now, Bobb is proposing to create charter schools for 16,000 students from 41 schools slated for closure. He argues that this will save millions of dollars. I have to wonder, however, at the conflict of interest.

[…] What we have in Detroit is an Emergency Manager appointed by the previous governor who was facing a challenge from the School District which was frustrated by his top-down approach to school reform. That challenge was effectively crushed by the passage of Public Act 4. This same Emergency Manager was a graduate from a foundation that promotes corporate school reform and also pays around a third of his six-figure salary. The Emergency Manager has the power to break union contracts, layoff teachers, and open charter schools that benefit the same foundation that is so heavily invested in the Emergency Manager’s career.

This is nothing short of a coordinated effort between the billionaire foundations pushing school reform and Tea Party conservatives intent on slashing benefits and ending collective bargaining rights. Public schools are under assault by the forces of privatization, and public school teachers face benefit and salary cuts while the very rich are promised tax cuts. Similar efforts are underway in Florida and Wisconsin.I couldn’t agree with Kain’s assessment anymore than I already have. Clearly we’ve already seen how this is working out for the residents of Benton Harbor, Michigan, a small town with a 90% Black population where as it stands their votes no longer matter. I know, this type of stuff isn’t supposed to happen in the great democratic experiment that is America. But as the saying goes: when there’s blood on the streets, buy property. In the case of Detroit, charter schools seems to be the profit model, while in Benton Harbor, it’s about a building a golf course and executive resort of the wealthy power brokers of Michigan.

Hopefully somebody’s paying attention to this. Because it would be a damn shame if a school for which boasts of a 90% graduation rate and 100% college acceptance is closed for good. Or handed over to corporatists whose only concern at the end of the day is the profit margin, and not the students.