The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Detroit high school students walk out over deteriorating schools

Apr 24, 2006

Around 200 students at Mackenzie High School in Detroit staged a walkout on March 29. They were protesting a lack of textbooks, dirty bathrooms, leaking roofs, poor security and mandatory uniforms.

Students at the school often have only one book for every three students. The school’s roofs have leaked, causing damage to some of the school’s few computers. Students passed around flyers showing broken toilets. One student, Tyranna Maclean said, “The bathrooms are terrible – the toilets are over-flooded, the sinks are over-flooded ... And nobody wants to use the bathroom. Security, they come when they want to. There’s no real security at the school.”

Widespread budget cuts in the Detroit Public Schools have created similar conditions at all of the schools. They have removed janitorial staff and replaced them with contractors who come around only once in a while. There are few if any workers on the grounds to fix problems when they arise.

Even the schools considered the best in the Detroit system, the “magnet” schools, are scraping by. The Detroit School of Arts, formerly the School of Fine and Performing Arts, no longer gives performances.

Detroit police broke up the Mackenzie demonstration before it could spread to other schools. They took 32 students into custody, charging one of the students with inciting a riot, which is a felony, and eight others with disorderly conduct.

Police also ticketed parents of some of the students, threatening them with fines of up to $250.

The school’s principal, Bernard Bonam, had the nerve to blame the students. He said the problems with the bathrooms and lockers were a result of vandalism.

The students and their parents from the Mackenzie High expressed what they thought about his disgusting attitude, the penalties and the rotten conditions. They demonstrated at a meeting of the newly elected school board. More power to them!