Affecting an astounding 46,000 Detroit students at 94 of 97 schools, the Detroit Federation of Teachers organized a “sickout” whereby 2,600 of the school district’s educators refused to report to work by calling in sick on Monday.
Detroit teachers continued their protest Tuesday with hundreds gathering to protest in front of the Fisher building.
The “sickout” is in protest over Judge Steven Rhodes informing labor union representatives of the Detroit Federation of Teachers the city is unable to fulfill educators’ salaries beyond June 30.
Judge Rhodes is the emergency manager of the troubled Detroit Public School system.
“I urge our legislators to act thoughtfully, but with the urgency that this situation demands,” Mr. Rhodes said in a statement.
Educators’ pay beyond June 30 hinges on approval of a $715 million reform bill currently stalled in the Michigan State House. In March, Michigan’s legislature passed a supplemental appropriation allocating $48.7 million to keep Detroit’s schools in operation until the conclusion of the 2015-16 school year.
The Detroit Public School system is currently $3.5 billion in debt, $1.9 billion of which is pension liabilities and the school system is operating with a $312 million deficit for the 2015-16 schoolyear.
Among the lowest achievers in the classroom nationwide, perhaps the students in Detroit’s schools may finally learn something on their day off.
If nothing else, students enrolled in the Detroit public schooling system will at least see how their teachers’ refusal to show for work perfectly illustrates the insubordinate nature of union officials and unionized teachers.
Often trumpeting an eagerness to serve both students and community alike when describing the prime inducement for a career in education, teachers unions have descended in purpose to survive as scant more than a jobs protection agency with the obligation for the intellectual development of students of peripheral concern.
Detroit’s teachers’ union and its members are indifferent to the fate of the city’s schools and the students who inhabit them; their foremost preoccupation is obtaining guarantees from the Michigan State Legislature funding so their swollen pension plans will prevail.
Having grown accustomed to the generous privileges provided at the expense of Detroit’s taxpayers, the flywheel which drives the union “sickout” is union officials and members’ fixation on enlarging salaries and pension munificence while dashing every attempt to reform the education system, forestalling teacher accountability and discrediting emerging charter schools.
Although Detroit’s schooling system is plagued by high dropout rates and beset by miserable test scores, among the lowest in the nation, the Detroit Federation of Teachers would prefer to harness crackpot tactics of a walkout and exercise its powerful sway by methods designed to blackmail elected leaders and increase their stranglehold over the city.
Skipping work encapsulates both the missionary zeal and priorities of Detroit’s teachers.
[The Independent] [Detroit Free Press] [EducationNext] [Detroit News] [freep.com] [Photo courtesy AP/Carlos Osorio]