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Teacher 'Sickout' Closes Dozens Of Detroit Schools

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A mass sickout Monday by Detroit teachers has closed over 50 schools. Teachers are staging a protest which began last week over pay and general turmoil in the district.

The Detroit Public School district put out an alert Sunday warning parents that this might happen.


Former union president Steve Conn calls it a "continuation of the rolling strikes." School officials warned families Sunday that "ongoing sick-outs" by teachers could keep kids at home.

Many teachers in Detroit are dissatisfied with their pay and the district's poor finances. Gov. Rick Snyder wants to pay off the debt and spin off a new district, but he lacks support so far in the Legislature.

DPS Emergency Manager Darnell Earley (former Emergency Manager appointed by Snyder for the city of Flint)  says it's clear that teachers are feeling frustrated over the challenges they face, but he stresses that the sick outs are not the way to get the support needed to address the issues and calls the sick days "misguided."

Statement from DPS:

  • Detroit Public Schools’ today issued a special alert to its parents and families that it may need to close a high number of its school buildings on Monday, January 11, 2015 due to the ongoing sick-outs being organized by a minority of DPS' teachers.
  • Although the District does not know exactly which schools are being targeted for closure, it felt that it was important to inform DPS’ families of the strong possibility of Monday closures so that they can plan appropriately for the care of their students.
  • The District will begin school closure alerts no later than 6 a.m. on Monday morning as information becomes available. DPS families are encouraged to watch for news of individual school closures in local media outlets, on the DPS Website, as well as the DPS Facebook page. Schools will also send their families an automated call if they will need to close due to a high volume of teachers absences.
  • “It’s clear that teachers are feeling an overwhelming sense of frustration over the challenges that they and all DPS employees face as they do their jobs each day,” said DPS Emergency Manager Darnell Earley. “We understand and share their frustration. However, given the reality of the District’s financial distress, it is becoming clearer every day that the only way that we are going to be able to address these serious issues in any way is through an investment in DPS by the Michigan Legislature. Unfortunately, obtaining that support becomes more challenging with each closure of a school due to a teacher sick-out.”
  • Earley continued, “In order to build support for this critical investment, I and my team will continue to share districtwide concerns with the Governor’s administration as well as with Legislators. We will continue to elevate that discussion because it too is critical to a long-term successful outcome for Detroit Public Schools and its students.”


Response from Detroit Teachers: "A Union Within a Union"

"Teachers from more than 40 DPS schools are demanding safe conditions, adequate
learning environments, and a level playing field for DPS Students"

Detroit Teachers Fight Back (A union Within a Union), is a group of teachers mobilizing to
unite, shed light on unsafe and subpar learning conditions, and demand resolution. Just
as doctors take the Hippocratic Oath to uphold ethical standards, teachers also take a
Loyalty Oath to serve, protect and allow no harm. Unfortunately, we have been unable
to live up to that with the constant change of leadership, state control and 4 consecutive
Emergency Managers.

On Monday, January 11, 2016, 12 p.m., DPS Teachers will join in solidarity during a rally
organized by teachers from Paul Robeson at Malcolm X Academy at the Fisher Building,
3011 W Grand Blvd, Detroit, MI 48202. Despite the increased cost of medical care, and
lost wages, teachers are choosing to go without pay or to take a personal day stand in

We are not affiliated with BAMN, its' leadership, or any former DFT leadership. We are
teachers united as it is time that we stand up and defend our students, our profession,
and our rights! Our cornerstone issues are Academics, Fairness & Equity. Our goal is to
ensure that Detroit students are no longer pay for the deficit created by state control,
and to protect their civil rights and ability to receive an exemplary education.

In an Open Letter to DPS Parents, DPS Teacher Sarah Jardine shared the following:

  • Dear Parent, I write this to you on this night because you're on my mind. You live in Detroit and
    you send your child to Detroit Public Schools. You trust me everyday with your children. I feel that
    I owe you an apology. I apologize because I should have stood up. I kept quiet as they dismantled
    our schools. I was silent when they took your schools from you. I didn't protest in the streets when
    they put our schools in State control. I said nothing when they took your democracy. I should be
    ashamed of myself. I, the teacher you trusted, had power to start a revolution, and fight for you,
    and I didn't fight back. Tonight, I am going to make you a promise that I won't sit quiet any
    Public education is the cornerstone to democracy, and Detroit teachers deserve to be
    treated the same way teachers are treated in Livonia, Novi, West Bloomfield, Grosse
    Pointe, Troy, and all other districts throughout the state of Michigan.
    The DPS Teachers Fight Back Rally will include remarks from Dr. James Perkins, Greater
    Christ Baptist Church, DPS Parents, and DPS Teacher organizers, during which a list of
    concerns and demands will be shared including: safe learning conditions for all students,
    increasing students academic achievement, and the removal of Emergency Manager
    Darnell Earley, who was an integral part of the Flint Water Crisis. We hereby stand united
    to protect the 47 thousand students remaining within Detroit Public Schools and demand
    immediate corrective action!


TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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