The anti-teacher rhetoric in Detroit is out of control these days. If you aren’t familiar with what’s happening in Detroit Public Schools at the moment, let me bring you up to speed. After dealing with a state takeover, nearly a decade of frozen pay, and deplorable working and learning conditions, Detroit teachers have been staging ‘sick-outs’ to protest and shed some light on their predicament. The sick-outs closed 64 schools on Monday, and and almost two dozen on Tuesday.
Emboldened by Governor Rick Snyder’s steadfast commitment to destroying public education (see: the EAA, and the assault on democracy that is his emergency financial manager law), conservatives in Michigan have been lashing out at the teachers. A spokesperson for attorney general Bill Schuette kicked off the fun with this gem (note the plea to ‘think of the children’. More on this later):
“Staff may have complaints, but not showing up for work hurts the kids and parents, not the administrators. We feel for these families because this is outrageous, no matter where it happens.”
Here’s a question for you, Mr. Schuette. Are the dangers of black mold and falling concrete not also hurtful to children? Is the fact that we are asking students to learn in this environment not outrageous?
Darnell Earley, the new DPS emergency manager also attempted to pile on when he called the sick-outs “highly unethical”. I do have to defer to Mr. Earley’s expertise in the field of highly unethical actions, as he is one of the people directly responsible for poisoning the children of Flint in the name of saving the city a few bucks.
As if the comments from Earley and Schuette’s lackey weren’t enough, the Detroit News posted an editorial calling for the leaders behind the sick-outs to lose their jobs. This editorial is amazing, for all the wrong reasons:
Students should never be used as bargaining chips
The irony here is delicious. This is exactly what Schuette, Earley, and others are doing when they ask teachers to go back to work for the sake of the children. The teachers are out there protesting for the sake of the children, because no educator in Michigan can expect the state government to do the right thing when it comes to our schools and our students. Snyder side-stepped democracy with his emergency financial manager law, the state takeover of DPS crippled the district and sent it into massive debt, the performance of the schools in the EAA continues to plummet, and Snyder and others have rammed through anti-teacher legislation despite initial promises that they would not do so. The self-proclaimed One Tough Nerd is nothing more than a bully. Anyway, back to the editorial.
In regards to Michigan’s anti-strike laws:
Lawmakers have failed to strengthen the law in recent years, but they should make it a priority now.
“These actions by certain DPS teachers do absolutely nothing to address or correct the problems tied to the district,” stated Kelly, R-Saginaw Township. “All it’s doing is damaging the education of thousands of students.”
Oh look, another lawmaker attempting to use students as a bargaining chip! Look, when going through regular channels to fix problems does nothing, teachers have to resort to drastic action. The teachers participating in these sick-outs are acting as a voice for their students. They are advocating for safer, healthier learning conditions. Representative Kelly is essentially refusing to acknowledge that crumbling buildings are an issue. These sick-outs are shining a national spotlight on this problem. Calling attention to the neglect of public education in Detroit is the most important thing that DPS students can do for their students right now.
I guarantee that none of the legislators that are sounding off on DPS teachers would send their own child to a crumbling school like Spain. They’re urging teachers to return to their classrooms, but they seem completely unable or unwilling to empathize with the plight of the teachers or students. Forcing students to learn in these conditions every single day surely does more lasting damage to them than missing a few days of school.
I urge you all to stand with DPS teachers. If you’re in Michigan, tell your legislator that the state’s treatment of DPS is unacceptable. Help raise awareness of what these brave educators are doing right now.
The Trombonist’s Mouthpiece by Joe Guarr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License