Petition aims to bring "collective voice of students" to DPS debate

Feb 17, 2016

Alexis Price, left, and Halima Begun hope the petition will help "give our students a voice" as lawmakers debate the future of DPS.
Credit Lauren Herrin

As controversy and uncertainty swirl around the future of the Detroit Public Schools, students say no one is asking for their input — and at least one group wants that to change.

Everyone from rural Michigan lawmakers to Detroit business leaders seems to have an opinion about the “DPS question.”

That’s because the district basically needs a state bailout and some type of “restructuring” to avoid bankruptcy.

But while officials haggle over bills in Lansing, DPS students say the conversation hasn’t included them.

Cass Technical High School sophomore Halima Begun says recent teacher sickout protests at least grabbed some public attention, but “no one really paid much attention to the collective voice of students.”

So Begun helped start a student petition to change that.

It demands changes to “improve conditions of public education here in Detroit,” providing “equitable” opportunities on par with schools in suburban districts.

To date, more than 1,100 students from eight DPS schools have signed the petition, which will be sent to state and city officials.

Alexis Price, a peer educator with the Neighborhood Service Organization’s Youth Initiatives Program, says students have a lot to add to the conversation.

“And they don’t get enough people handing them microphones. ‘What do you want in your schools? What kind of systems do you want? What kind of books do you need?’ They don’t get enough of that,” Price said.