Today I learned about a documentary called Grown in Detroit. Here, according to the website for the film, is what it’s about.
Grown in Detroit focuses on the urban gardening efforts managed by a public school of 300, mainly african-american, pregnant and parenting teenagers. In Detroit alone, there are annually more than 3,000 pregnant teenagers who drop out of high school. This school is one of three located in the United States. As part of the curriculum, the girls are taught agricultural skills on the school’s own farm located behind the school building what used to be the playground. The young mothers, often still children themselves, are learning by farming to become more independent women and knowledgeable about the importance of nutritional foods. Many of them start out disliking the often physically hard work on the farm but this aversion disappears as they see their crops growing and being sold for profit. “Back to the roots”, a simple yet effective solution for a city that has to start all over again and perhaps a lesson to be learned for the rest of the world.
This program sounds great, right?
I mean, I haven’t really looked into it that much, but, at least on the surface, it sounds to me like just the kind of program that Detroit needs. It’s innovative. It’s looking to break persistent negative cycles. It’s looking to empower kids so that they actually do something positive with their lives. It’s hard to imagine that it’s something that people wouldn’t support, right?
Oh, and they have a 90% graduation rate, which has to be, by far, the highest in the city.
But, guess what?
The Catherine Ferguson Academy for Young Women, it was recently announced, is to be among the next round of Detroit public schools to be closed.
And, the pregnant young women who attend the school, as you might imagine, aren’t too happy about it. In fact, on Friday, when they were told to vacate the building, the refused. They instead held a sit-in to save their school. And they were arrested.
I’d like for you to watch two videos. The first is a trailer for the film, Grown in Detroit, which features the girls of the Catherine Ferguson Academy. The second is video of the same young women being led away from the school in handcuffs.
If you want to sign a petition to keep the school open, you can do so here. Or, better yet, you could withhold your taxes until such time that GE and other corporations decide to pay there’s.
I’m sorry. I know that’s irresponsible advice to give, but I can’t imagine these girls having to go into classrooms packed with 60 kids, where I know they won’t stand a fighting chance to turn their lives around. I don’t want for you to be arrested, but I don’t see as how we’re being left with much choice. Our public schools are being systematically dismantled, while we slash the tax rate of those in the top 1%, and look the other way as large corporations shirk their responsibility. We’re at the tipping point, my friends, and something has got to happen.