The poor status of American public schools is the dirty little secret school officials like to sweep under the rug, but students at Frederick Douglass Academy in Detroit are saying “no more.” On Thursday, about 50 students from the all-boys school were suspended for walking out of class in protest and simply demanding a better education from the school.
“We’ve been wronged and disrespected and lied to and cheated,” senior Tevin Hill told the Detroit Free Press. “They didn’t listen to us when we complained to the administration. They didn’t listen to the parents when they complained to the administration, so I guess this is the only way to get things solved.”
The boys walked out in frustration over several complaints, including a lack of consistent teachers, the reassignment of the school principal, educators who abuse sick time, and a shortage of textbooks. One of the boys’ parents, Sharise Smith, said a math teacher has been absent for more than 68 days and her son was given an A in geometry without taking a final exam.
“It was by default, just for showing up. It wasn’t because he earned an A,” she said.
Seniors at the academy are worried they won’t be prepared for college much less their future. Seventeen-year-old Hill told The Detroit News that so many teachers have been simultaneously absent from school that dozens of students had been forced to simply gather in the gym or other common areas. They’ve also gone for long periods without homework, the results of which were seen on Hill’s placement exam at Bowling Green State University where he plans to attend next year.
“I literally couldn’t answer a question on there,” Hill said. “Right now, I’m not going to be as successful as I should be because I haven’t been properly taught.”
“They’re pushing smoke up parents’ butts,” she said, “and the parents better get the hell up and do something different.”
I’m with her. It’s amazing officials had time to suspend these boys for their protest but couldn’t manage to call substitute teachers in to educate them.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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