The sick-outs staged by Detroit Public Schools teachers in recent weeks have caught the attention of the state legislature, and not in a good way. Senator Phil Pavlov has rammed three bills through the Senate Education Committee aimed at punishing those who participate in the sick-outs, as well as punishing districts who don’t punish educators who participate in the sick-outs.
Senator Pavlov would have you believe that these bills are all about protecting kids, and getting them the education that they deserve. He says he’s identified gaps in the current strike laws in Michigan, “And so, we want to make sure we close those gaps for the good of the kids.”
It sounds noble enough, until you realize that Pavlov is refusing to address why DPS educators feel the need to protest. As I covered in a previous post, many DPS facilities are literally falling apart. Teachers are getting sick thanks to black mold. Parts of buildings are off-limits to everybody because they’ve fallen into such a serious state of disrepair. Senator Pavlov, how exactly is forcing students and teachers to try to accomplish anything meaningful in such a harmful environment good for the kids?
Suppose the Michigan Legislature actually passes these awful bills, what next? It’s not like there’s a teacher surplus in Detroit. These protesting teachers are standing up because they are literally the only advocate that many of these students have. If they are forced out, if they have their certification revoked, there’s not a line of people waiting to fight for these kids. Striking is literally a last resort for educators, an option that does not get pursued unless all other avenues have failed.
This open letter from a Renaissance High School student illustrates how these bills will just make a terrible situation even worse.
When you have lost these teachers, how will you replace them? Who wants to work in a school district where ceilings fall on student’s heads, and mushrooms grow in the hallways? I did not have an English teacher for the first
four months of school, and last year I did not have a French teacher the whole first semester. With a history of all these vacancies, how will firing 23 teachers help your case at all.
Rather than meet these problems head on and produce a beneficial solution, Senator Pavlov and those like him have chosen to instead punish the very people working to fix these problems. They have clearly stated that they believe silencing the teachers means that the problems with DPS will cease.
Any legislator who votes in support of these bills is not a friend of education, or the students they claim to support. I urge you to contact your legislator and tell them to vote against these awful bills. Encourage them to instead use their energy and influence to come up with solutions.
The Trombonist’s Mouthpiece by Joe Guarr is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License