Teachers, families protest school closure threat

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Detroit — Members of the Detroit Federation of Teachers joined students, parents and teachers of Detroit Public Schools Community District Friday to protest the potential closure of 24 schools.

The rally, outside Osborn College Preparatory Academy, was held in response to a recent decision by the Michigan School Reform Office to close low-performing public schools in Detroit and another elsewhere in the state.

DFT president Ivy Bailey stood with a few dozen demonstrators, some carrying signs, in front of the school threatened with closure to argue that shutting down schools “does not improve student achievement.”

Instructor Suaad Aljunaidi, who works with visually impaired children, displays her discontent over the forthcoming Detroit school closings.

“When Robert Bobb (former emergency manager for the district) closed over 100 schools, it created an educational desert,” she said.

More than a third of Detroit’s public schools could be shuttered within the next two years, according to state rankings released last month that mark consistently failing schools for closure.

As many as 24 of 119 city schools could potentially be shuttered as soon as this summer, with another 25 in 2018 if they remain among the state’s lowest performers for another year.

State education officials released school rankings in January that put 38 Michigan schools in jeopardy of closing this summer.

Parent Andrea Jackson said closure of the school could create more troubles for parents already struggling with finances and transportation.

“If they close this school, it will create a hardship on parents who will have to travel farther and they may not be able to afford the extra gas, and some may not even have cars,” said Jackson, whose son, Antonio Jackson, 17, attends Osborn.

“How can you build a strong community if businesses close down near the school? Because if you close a school, you’re also shutting down the nearby small businesses, and the property values will be impacted if you dismantle an entire community.”

Student Dominique Bates, 15, in the 9th grade said he felt sad about the possible closing of his school.

“The school was really improving and now they’re talking about closing it,” he said. “If it does close, I’m thinking about going to a school in Warren.”

Other rallies were scheduled at a dozen other district schools that could be facing closure, DFT said.