More than 31,000 students affected by ongoing work stoppages by teachers
“Detroit Public Schools today was forced to close 64 of its 97 school buildings due to a large scale sick-out organized by many of the District’s teachers. This sick out resulted in more than 31,000 students missing a day of instruction, and potentially placing more than a million dollars in per pupil funding in jeopardy. We have no other choice but to close the schools when teachers do not come to work.
I understand and appreciate the level of concern that caused teachers to choose this course of action – whether I agree with it or not. However, I would add that in addition to students, in many ways, all District employees are adversely affected by today’s events – which in and of itself is no solution.
A solution can only be identified through the collective efforts of all parties involved – teachers, principals, administrators, parents and community stakeholders.
When I met with the leadership of the Detroit Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers in late December, we talked about a number of valid concerns raised by the union’s membership – some that can be reviewed and resolved in the short-term, and some that can only be addressed if we receive the investment that we are asking the Michigan Legislature to make in DPS.
Two important deliverables came out of this meeting: 1) to allow the DFT to send representatives into our school buildings to have one-on-one conversations with their members regarding to understand their concerns and how they may assist in positively moving the District forward, and 2) putting into place a plan to hold a series of joint meetings where teachers will be given an update on the current state of DPS and have an opportunity to dialogue with members of my leadership team. We expect these meetings to take place in the next two weeks.
We know that there are serious issues facing everyone who works for Detroit Public Schools. Working for an organization in distress, especially the level of distress facing DPS, is not easy. DPS employees have made a tremendous amount of sacrifices to move the District forward over the last eight years, and the efforts they put forth on a daily basis are to be commended. That is a part of the broader message that I have been sharing with the Governor’s administration and the Michigan Legislature.
It is counter intuitive to everyone’s efforts to move this District forward when we send the message to the rest of the state and the nation that was sent today. Everyone’s contributions are critical to the future of Detroit Public Schools. Our only way to ensure a strong future for the District is by working together and focusing on the students and their families.”