A Detroit public school designed to keep pregnant teens on a path to a diploma and prepare young mothers for parenting recently graduated what could be its final class.
The Catherine Ferguson Academy is being shut down, a victim of cost cutting as the urban school district tries to close a massive budget deficit.
According to CBS News’ Detroit affiliate WWJ, Catherine Ferguson Academy has been a vital haven for pregnant teens for over two decades. The school’s curriculum was designed to nurture students into being good mothers and prepare them for college and careers.
But Catherine Ferguson remains a casualty of the Detroit Public School’s (DPS) sweeping deficit reduction plan aimed at closing many of the city’s public schools, under the direction of DPS Emergency Manager Robert Bobb.
Drawing over 200 Detroit-area students annually, Catherine Ferguson had achieved a 90 percent graduation rate. In the past, 100 percent of those who graduated were accepted into college with financial aid. Out of the 47 members of the class of 2011, 46 are scheduled to attend college in the fall and one is set to join the U.S. Marines Corps.
Students at Catherine Ferguson are schooled in traditional core curriculums and also trained in “real life” studies about raising children and how to function as competent adults, according to the school’s website. It’s currently one out of a few of its kind in the country.
“A lot of girls think that after they have a baby they can’t do anything after that. So, when they say that to me I’m going, ‘Well, why?’ I said, you know, when you have a baby it’s only the baby who leaves you, not your brain,” Asenath Andrews, Ferguson’s principal told WWJ.
In April, over a dozen people were arrested after students and local residents gathered outside the school to protest its closing. While many students staged a sit-in and others voiced their opposition to its closing outside, a DPS spokesperson told Detroit’s FOX affiliate WJBK that demonstrating wasn’t the right way to go about getting their messages heard. He explained instead, they should voice their frustrations directly to Bobb.
While there were initial plans to convert the institution into a charter school, a report by the World Socialist website explained that Bobb ordered the school to be officially shut down on June 17.
“What can you say? It’s gone,” Andrews told the WSWS. “I had been in a state of denial.”