I know that class is basically over, but after doing some final research for my paper I happened to stumble upon this article on Grist, “Amazing urban farm school for teen moms will be shut down.” Michigan’s Catherine Ferguson Academy is to be shut down by this summer after a new law allows the emergency manager of the schools, Rick Snyder, unilateral authority in the matter. In other words, its his decision and his alone. Does this school sound familiar? Well, that’s because it’s the same school mentioned in Rachel Solnit’s “Detroit Arcadia.”
Yes, the high school designed to help pregnant teenagers learn to farm in order to create a sustainable life for themselves and their babies is being shut down. While I do not condone teenage pregnancy, I am not ignorant enough to think that it will not happen. Therefore, a school with a 90% graduation rate and a 50% college acceptance rate for its pregnant students sounds like a good thing to me. Students are taught to grow their own food, build, and they even have farm animals which they have learned to take care of. Instead of being praised for their actions, the school is being shut down entirely (it’s pretty sketchy if you read the whole article).
After hearing about the school’s apparent closure, the students made signs in support of a peaceful sit-in. Instead of having their voices heard, they were arrested in front of their own children and their voices were drowned out by police sirens. (Really? Arresting them in front of their children and arresting a teacher? How can that be necessary?)
As much as I despise admitting why I think this is happening to the students of Catherine Ferguson, even the principal has her opinions. Being in Detroit, the school naturally has a high rate of African-Americans, which after reading Solnit’s article many people have issues with. These students were trying to better themselves and make a life for themselves and their children, but now they will be forced to go back to the city’s public schools if they even go back. “If the neighborhood school was a really good option, they’d be at the neighborhood school,” states their principal.