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Detroit kids start 'Freedom School'

Part of what you're supposed to do in high school is re-create the world. You start breaking away from the rules adults put on you, and you make the world new. That's your job. Your community, meanwhile, is supposed to give you a safe place to go to school and a decent education when you get there. You study, and they make it possible for you to learn.

Deal, right? Like so many other basics of life in Detroit, education is breaking down. On hearing that the schools emergency manager would use his unilateral authority to close nearby Southwest High School, a couple of hundred kids last week walked out of Detroit's Western High (Mark Maynard's got video). The students were suspended, so instead, on Friday they started a "Freedom School" across from Southwest. They plan to study Civil Rights history, among other subjects, while they're barred from their regular classes.

You can follow the Freedom School on Facebook, Tumblr and Twitter. This morning it sounds like they're dealing with lousy weather, getting help with classes and looking for help with lunches. After the jump, the speech given by one of their leaders, junior Raychel Gafford, about the walkout. She has the temerity to argue that schools are supposed to be assets to the community -- maybe we're supposed to invest them.

The speech:

Hi my name is  Raychel Gafford. I’m 17 years old and i am in the 11th grade. We are the students of Western International standing in solidarity with the students of southwestern. We are here not only in solidarity with southwestern but to draw the line and take a stand for our education.

We are walking out to fight for quality education and to protect our public school system. We are here demanding better education and that our voices be heard. Our school system should work WITH US not against us. I’m sick and tired of being pushed around. WHAT ABOUT YOU??

All I hear when I hear about DPS schools is closings, chartering, MONEY MONEY MONEY and LACK OF MONEY! To be honest, I don’t think our education should have a price tag. I thought schools are supposed to be about educating students so we can be the best members of the community and grow to be successful adults.

Schools are assets to the community. What’s going to happen when all our assets are privatized?? 80% of charter schools are for profit. THAT’S NOT WHAT OUR COMMUNITY NEEDS. Schools are not supposed to be ran as businesses, education is a long term investment. We should not be making money off of our students. We are children, WE ARE PEOPLE! NOT—DOLLAR SIGNS!

The solution is not to close public schools. It’s not a quick fix. It only does long term damage to our neighborhoods. (When schools close, our families, and our neighbors leave the community so that their kids can have access to quality schools and opportunities elsewhere.) We need to improve the public school system here, not shrink it down or sell if off to charters until it disappears completely.

Our community thrives off of public education. Without our proper education we are less prepared for life. We are the future! WE ARE THE NEXT GENERATION OF ADULTS! WE’RE HERE TELLING YOU THAT THERE IS A PROBLEM! We’re done choosing the lesser of two evils, or accepting solutions that are not good for our communities. This time we’re leading the way. We are demanding respect!