Members of the grass-roots activist group BAMN have decided to target Ferndale and our schools in their effort to force the creation of one massive regional school district that would cross county borders and include students from Detroit and all the surrounding suburbs. Their issues and concerns are very understandable. The Detroit Public School System is almost completely dysfunctional with multiple school closings, a sky-high drop-out rate, and financial irresponsibility. Their school system is broken, and has been such for many years. But instead of demanding reform and insisting on accountability within their own system, BAMN members are targeting a tiny school district known for its progressive ideas in Oakland County, and are using any means necessary, including boycott threats and aggressive rhetoric, to try and guilt this town to support their plans.
BAMN evidently wants Ferndale High School to open its doors to students from Detroit.
We already are a school of choice district, allowing students to attend from Oakland County.
Obviously, opening up our main high school to the tens of thousands of Detroit students is impossible. And even if every high school in Oakland County did so, that would not solve the problems systemic in the Detroit Public Schools.
Ferndale is trying to help. Our University High School is an excellent college-prep high school partnered with Lawrence Tech. that provides a great choice for an education for students planning on further college education or possible careers in the automotive industry. The special school has attracted students from all over, including Detroit. It is a success, is very popular and its effective.
But rather than appreciate that we can help an additional 400 hundred students get a quality education there, without the costs of a private school, BAMN claims the school is segregated and inferior. Such bizarre and convoluted thinking is not only false and inflammatory, but it does nothing to help solve the problem or bring us closer to solutions. Without University High School, these 400 young people would lose this valuable choice.
Ferndale High School is fullly integrated, and has been for decades. Students there represent many cultures and backrounds and ethnic nationalities. Students choosing to attend University High School do so in order to get a good education. That it attracts mostly Black students from Detroit is proof that it is a good school, and students and parents are voting with their feet.
BAMN has suggested closing University High School. Thus we would go backwards by denying several hundred youth the chance for a better education and career.
BAMN also has decided to threaten local Ferndale businesses and shops with a boycott unless the stores post a flyer from BAMN promoting their cause. Apart from the ugliness of that kind of blackmailed threat, this activity will further doom their prospects for change and reform.
Rather than lobbying state officials and their own local school board, using logic and reason and proposing solutions with real possibilities, BAMN will further drive yet another wedge between our cities on either side of 8 Mile Road.
Ferndale is known now as a progressive and open community. BAMN's rhetoric ironically attempts to leverage such feelings into liberal guilt. They have even tried to tie the town's
open and supportive attitudes toward Gay people into their strategy to force our public schools to open enrollment to tens of thousands of Wayne County students. Such cynical and twisted logic leads only to head-scratching disbelief.
We in Ferndale totally support the goal of every young person to get a solid education. It is a right that our country must deliver on for every generation. We sympathize with parents and students in Detroit and in other districts that are failing. And we join the chorus to demand accountability and solutions to achieve quality education for all students. But closing a successful school in Ferndale or threatening Ferndale businesses with boycotts will not help the problem, and will ultimately not be successful.
Craig Covey, Mayor
City of Ferndale