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Detroit schools facing closure rally for their lives

There are three smaller high schools on the larger Osborn High School campus. All three face potential closure because of low test scores.
Sarah Cwiek
Michigan Radio
There are three smaller high schools on the larger Osborn High School campus. All three face potential closure because of low test scores.

As the state decides which schools it’s deemed “failing” will close, students, parents and staff at some Detroit schools on the chopping block are rallying for them to stay open.

That includes Osborn High School, which is actually three smaller schools on one campus. All three could be shut down at the end of this school year because of persistently low test scores.

But many in the Osborn community say that’s a bad idea for a whole variety of reasons. Some of them explained as they rallied outside the school on a brutally cold Friday.

Quinton Myers has taught science at Osborn College Preparatory Academy for two years. He says the state School Reform Office may decide which schools are failing based on test scores, but “there’s more to school than just data.”

At schools like Osborn, raising attendance is an important sign of improvement, Myers said. And he points out that with Detroit public schools re-organized into a new district just this school year, schools need more time and continued stability to show real gains.

“You can’t just grade them on that off the top. Now you have to gradually give them a chance,” Myers said. “Now I saw that your attendance has improved, now once that improves, now let’s start looking at this data.”

Of the 38 schools the state could close for poor test scores this year, 24 are Detroit public schools. That includes just about all the high schools on the city’s east side.

That worries Osborn parent and resident Roquesha O’Neal. She says all the information she’s received so far from the School Reform Office is a letter saying the school could be closed, and a list of other schools and school districts her kids might be able to attend, including some as far away as Ann Arbor.

“They didn’t tell me, as a parent, where our children are gonna go,” O’Neal said. “So right now I have no clue. I’m in a puzzle like everybody else.”

Detroit school district leaders plan to make cases to keep their schools open, arguing to the state that closing the schools would cause significant hardship to many students and families. Decisions are expected in about a month.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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