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In Detroit, students change schools at dizzying pace

Oct 8, 2018 by

By the time she’d reached the eighth grade, Shantaya Davis had attended so many schools — at least five — that she couldn’t name them all.

“I don’t even know what grade it was,” she said of one school, the one her mother decided wasn’t safe after she was threatened by a man in a car after class one day. “I just know I went there and it was like half a year. … I went to a lot of schools. That’s why I keep forgetting.”

Her classmate, Shawntia Reeves, attended four schools on the way to eighth grade. Or maybe five. Her parents weren’t exactly sure of the details, beyond the fact that she’d started kindergarten at the small neighborhood school her family had attended for generations. When the district shut the school down to cut costs, she bounced around, forced to repeatedly make new friends, then lose them again.

“It makes you feel like you ain’t got no one to talk to,” she said.

Both girls were members of the same eighth-grade class at Bethune Elementary-Middle School in northwest Detroit last year. They posed with their classmates for a photo in June — a portrait of middle-school grads who looked like they’d known each other for years. But the 31 eighth-graders in Bethune’s “8B” homeroom had collectively attended a total of 128 schools — an average of more than four schools

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