We are resolved to create an independent Freedom Schools movement in Detroit. Each DIFS session has two focuses:
(1) Tutoring in core subjects and skills;
(2) Engagement in learning activities that are inspiring and culturally enriching
A Coalition of Community GroupsDIFS forged a coalition of the various civic organizations involved in education justice work. We recruited retired teachers, college students, artists and others to work as volunteers. We reminded each other of Detroit’s legacy of self-determination in the face of crisis, and turned to the historic concept and practice of freedom schools to protect, affirm and nurture the children. We set out to organize freedom schools across the City, wherever we could identify safe environments in which to meet the children, in the afternoons after school and on Saturdays.
Community Education and MobilizationMore than 100 Detroit public schools have been closed over the last decade. We anticipate that DIFS enrollment will grow significantly as the State closes additional schools, and the quality of education continues to deteriorate due to overcrowding and other negative factors. Many Detroit children are not attending school at all currently because their neighborhood school has been closed, and circumstances prevent their parents from transporting them to schools miles away from home. Our freedom schools will respond to this immediate crisis; but for the long term, we will continue to demand that Detroit public schools remain open and that they deliver the education that our children must have in 21st-century society. To that end, we are holding education task force meetings (Saturday mornings at The Wright) and DIFS organizing meetings every week (Monday evenings at Cass Commons). In these weekly meetings, we work to educate and mobilize the public concerning the crisis, while supporting teachers and parents whose schools are targeted for closing.
DIFS spoke out in solidarity with DPS teachers who protested the injustices to which students and staff were being subjected under Emergency Management. DIFS organized two major forums at The Wright Museum, both of which were attended by more than 300 participants. Demonstrations organized by DIFS in collaboration with other organizations have also attracted hundreds and possibly influenced State officials to delay proposed school closings. We are supporting parents who choose to opt-out of school testing. We are planning to engage principals, teachers, and parents in a collaborative effort that insists on alternatives to the dominant narrative that our children cannot succeed. We understand that our schools are not receiving the adequate financial support required to ensure their success. We see that privatization of education, gentrification, and the appropriation of inner-city land are the State’s objectives, requiring the systematic displacement of historic neighborhoods through home tax foreclosures, water shut-offs, and the closing of schools. This radical uprooting of Detroit’s African American communities calls for vigorous resistance.