Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Who Stands for Detroit Teachers and Parents?

I stand with Detroit teachers and students because they want their voices heard! They are demanding solutions and reform to plaguing issues that attack the human and civil rights to a public education. They are protesting by staging citywide “sickouts” for safe working and learning environments because the policy makers in Lansing were not listening, taking action, or giving them the attention they deserve.   

Mushrooms growing out of walls, leaky roofs, rat feces, standing water, crumbling stairwells, black mold, three-inch-long cockroaches, and kids have to wear coats just to stay warm in overcrowded classrooms with little or no heat. According to Detroit Mayor Michael Duggan, these schools are literally falling apart. We may find better facilities and learning environments in third world countries.

These miserable conditions are unacceptable and disgusting. Who should be held accountable for these issues, which are the cause for these “sickouts”? Financial deficits created by the constant changes in leadership, which includes state control and multiple emergency managers, are to blame for these issues.

Emergency managers are appointed by the governor rather than elected by the public. Darnell Early is the current emergency manager of Detroit Public Schools. He recently filed a restraining order and preliminary injunction to condemn and take punitive action against teachers in order to forbid the “sickout” protests.

Legislation to forbid the “sickout” protests will not solve these issues. Basically, it is just a way to push educators to the side and ignore their voice. Policy makers in Lansing need to visit the Detroit Public Schools in order to collaborate and listen to the caring and hardworking teachers rather than publicly punish them. We need to value their voice.

These types of unacceptable learning environments are an attack on a student’s human and civil rights to a public education. Teachers and students should not have to work and learn in these conditions. How are students expected to get an education in these appalling, deplorable, and toxic classrooms?  

Images surfaced on national and social media outlets shocking the public while showing them the reasons for the current protests. These images make me sick to my stomach, and I could not be more disappointed. I have never seen schools that look like this.

 Educational excellence is at risk. This is a state of social crisis that needs to be resolved. This is a cry out to policy makers to do what they can to fix the Detroit Public Schools.

The governor and state legislature need to take action by providing new leadership and financial resources to solve these problems and end this crisis. These tragedies can never happen again. Inadequate school systems are not “Pure Michigan”.

Community and religious leaders need to take the side of the Detroit teachers and students who have protested these conditions. We must all standup and make our voices heard. There are no parents in Michigan who want to send their children to schools that look like this.

Teachers and Detroit Public School Leaders will have their day in court this week. These teachers should be applauded for rising against the system and bringing these issues to our attention. However, some people disagree.

According to Greg McNeilly of the Detroit News, these strikes are disgraceful, unacceptable, and criminal. Teacher strikes are illegal in Michigan because they force schools to close for the day due to high absences. There are possible penalties such as fines and termination that could be assessed to these teachers.  

These work stoppages are not intended to hurt the students. They are not meant to send kids into the impoverished streets of Detroit. They are not meant to hinder academic achievement.

The teachers are standing up for the students and parents of Detroit. They are on the same team. Sometimes laws need to be broken in order fight for what is right, but in this case, they have not been. This is the only recourse educators have in Michigan to use their voice. They are calling in sick using a contracted given day off. 

Enough is enough. These teachers need our support in order to have an impact with policy makers in Lansing. Detroit deserves better.