January 16, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Detroit, MI- More than 60 city schools were closed Jan. 11 as teachers staged sickouts to protest what Detroit Federation of Teachers called “Third World” conditions in some city public schools.
The union, which has not organized the escalating sickouts, said many schools suffered from “toxic” and “deplorable” conditions, including black mold, rodents, overcrowded classes, and a lack of supplies. “Our members are telling us what’s going on in the schools,” said DFT interim president Ivy Bailey. “I think it’s about time that somebody started listening.” City schools have been under state-imposed emergency financial management for the last six years. Some Republican state legislators are considering ways to punish teachers who take part in the sickouts, which they call illegal strikes. Teachers need to do something “bold and brash” to draw attention to school conditions, responded DFT administrator Ann Mitchell, who is running the union under an American Federation of Teachers trusteeship. “These teachers are standing up for their kids.” Read more