Because They Could: The Fight to Save Oakman School

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Because They Could: The Fight to Save Oakman School 2016-11-29T17:39:20+00:00

Project Description

Because They Could
In the spring of 2013, Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts announced the closing of a fully intact education facility for physically disabled children--the only one of its kind left in the Detroit Public Schools System.
Today, we are in The Fight to Save Oakman School.

By Kate Levy and Dr. Thomas Pedroni | Originally Published at Vimeo. October 1, 2014
Across the country massive school closings and cutbacks have become a tradition. In 2006, the Detroit Public School (DPS) system first began shutter facilities, our children’s learning centers. The details are many. Budgets. Billings. And oh, those large buildings. By 2011, Michigan officials ordered Detroit to close half the city’s schools. Only a scant year later, 80 unused school properties lay vacant. Today, the number is ever-rising. “Emergency” management wields a wide-swinging machete and the dicing continues. Cuts are never ending.

No school is exempt, not even one that serves uniquely disadvantaged children. Ask the parents and the students whose lives were and are affected.

The state-of-the-art Oakman Orthopedic School was built to accommodate the needs of our most challenged loved ones. Aliya Moore, President of the Oakman Tiger Parents Association, knows full-well; children with severe disabilities need accessible entrances and a single floor layout. Our little ones require rooms for diaper changes and catheterizations. Nothing could be better to inspire the minds and hearts of our offspring whose bodies are frail than a wheelchair accessible greenhouse and playground. Mother Moore says with a smile and a spirit now in decline, “There is no other school like Oakman in Michigan” or at least there never was.

As soon as the school community found out that their school would be closed the following year, they reached out to members of the Detroit Board of Education, who aligned with the larger Detroit educational community in resistance.

Nevertheless, in the spring of 2013, Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts announced the closing of a fully intact education facility for physically disabled children–the only one of its kind left in the Detroit Public Schools System. The disenfranchisement of hundreds of DPS students followed. After the closing, the neighborhood around the school crumbled. Parents and community members began to search for answers. What they found was shocking.

Oakman Student on Playground
Oakman Kinesthetic Learning by Play
Oakman Student in Oakman T-shirt — Love of School

The Leonard Kaplan Education Collaborative for Critical Studies intends to “honor the lifework” of Leonard Kaplan, a professor emeritus of Wayne State University’s education college. The collaborative produces research for community organizations, educational stakeholders, education reporters, policy makers and peer-reviewed journals. The Leonard Kaplan Collaborative’s vision is to bring the research capacity of College of Education faculty into more direct engagement with educators, community organizations and policy-makers who share an interest in nurturing quality education for the whole child in metropolitan Detroit and Michigan. This story illustrates the ways in which a community’s documentation of events is invaluable for other hubs of resistance and future fights against corrupt power structures.

If you wish to join fight for justice in public education policy, if you have a story to share, or any questions, please contact The Leonard Kaplan Education Collaborative for Critical Studies Director, Tom Pedroni or Filmmaker and Media Organizer Kate Levy.

This piece was reprinted by EmpathyEducates with permission or license. We thank the Author, Filmmaker, Kate Levy and Tom Pedroni..for their kindness, research, documentation, caring, and what we believe invites a vital conversation We also wish to express our deep and abiding gratitude to Derrick Williams, Alfred Wright and Aliya Moore of the Oakman Tigers Parent Association. Their research, above all, made this film possible.

Because They Could
In the spring of 2013, Detroit Public Schools Emergency Manager Roy Roberts announced the closing of a fully intact education facility for physically disabled children--the only one of its kind left in the Detroit Public Schools System.
Today, we are in The Fight to Save Oakman School.

By Kate Levy and Dr. Thomas Pedroni | Originally Published at Vimeo. October 1, 2014