Teacher 'Sickout' Protests Shut Down Almost All Detroit Public Schools

Charter Schools Remain Open

DETROIT – The largest in a series of rolling sickouts by Detroit Public School teachers nearly shut down the entire district Wednesday.

no schoolAccording to NBC News, “All but a dozen or so of the city’s 100 public schools were closed Wednesday, forcing most of the district’s 46,000 students to stay home.”

Think about that. Nearly 50,000 students didn’t get a chance to learn anything, and parents were left scrambling to find a way to take care of their children. Many of the students eat their meals at school. When they are closed, students lose that option.

Thankfully, the other half of students attending public schools in Detroit attend charter public schools. Charter school authorizers, teachers, and staff remain committed to educating their students throughout the various sickouts.

Ingrid Jacques with The Detroit News said this about the teacher strikes in her January 20 article, “No excuse for DPS teacher strikes”:

Such a widespread teacher sickout is clearly a strike, which is illegal in Michigan. Public employees are not allowed to strike, but that obviously isn’t scaring these teachers. That’s because current law makes it tedious for school administrators to prove strikes took place, as well as punish offending teachers and their unions.

Under the law, teachers can face fines or losing their job. But the law needs to be changed so that district officials can discipline striking teachers in a much more prompt fashion. Senate Education Committee Chair Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, is working on legislation that would do just that, and he should pursue it as quickly as possible.

Teachers have given lots of reasons for striking, from support of ousted Detroit Federation of Teachers President Steve Conn to bad school conditions to the fact President Barack Obama visited Detroit Wednesday.

In the end, the reason doesn’t matter. There is no excuse to block that many children from the classroom.

These actions by teachers are another example of why conversations regarding DPS schools are failing to focus on the kids.

Too many of our children have been ill prepared for their next steps in life due to the failures of outdated systems.

Instead of keeping children away from their classrooms, we must instead focus on allowing students to access academic programs that provide them the same opportunities as students in every other city in this state and country.

Parents and their children deserve an educational system that serves them, not one that leaves them on the street. If DPS is going to let them down, we have an obligation to provide them with quality alternatives.