By all standards, Detroit's Catherine Ferguson Academy was a success story. The school for teenage moms had a 97 percent attendance rate and a 90 percent graduation rate. It was the focus of an award-winning Metro Times story in 2004
for its innovative practices. The gardens and animals on the school's grounds excited the imagination of students and neighborhood people, and it appeared to be a model for urban education.
And then the emergency manager-controlled DPS said it had to be closed, touching off a battle that resulted in the school remaining open, but under the operation of a for-profit charter school organization run by Blair Evans, the brother of failed Detroit mayoral candidate, former Detroit Police Chief and current Wayne County Executive-elect Warren Evans. And that's when things fell apart.
That story is the focus of a news report by Al-Jazeera America
, and the piece suggests that the charter organization innovated the school right out of existence. A news summary accompanying the video piece quotes Joyce Schon, a Detroit attorney who helped file a lawsuit against the school; Schon says the new set-up was "a disaster."
"They ended up telling teachers not to teach. They renamed the teachers advisors," she said. "[The students] were told to find their own externships… Who wants a high school student running around their office? And they were supposed to be doing that two days a week, and they had to have transportation to get their kids to the school for child care, and then find their own transportation to the non-existent externship, and back to the school to pick up their kids at the end of the school day."
Have a look at the story. If nothing else, it's another great, shining example of our state-appointed emergency managers and our incestuous political culture proving why we can't have nice things.